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Five NC State Players To Know Before Kentucky Meets The Pack In Omaha

Drew Franklinby:Drew Franklin06/15/24


Let’s take a break from watching Rocco’s Jello Shot Tracker and wishing we were in Omaha to preview Kentucky‘s College World Series opponent, the NC State Wolfpack. One of the eight teams left standing, NC State is a CWS participant for the fourth time in history after a comeback win over Georgia to advance from the Super Regional in Athens. The comeback was NC State’s 16th come-from-behind win of the year, a school record. It’s what they do.

On Saturday, Kentucky will see the Wolfpack for the first time since their thrilling three-game NCAA Regional series in Lexington in 2017. The two coaches from that series are still in place, but there are new players to meet before the Wildcats’ matchup with NC State at Charles Schwab Field. So, let’s get to know ’em. But first, a brief message from KSR’s presenting sponsor for our trip to Omaha, Summit Insurance Group.

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Now, the Pack’s top performers. Watch out for these guys.

NC State’s Alec Makarewicz (99) celebrates after hitting a home run during Game 3 of the Super NCAA Regional against Georgia at Foley Field on Monday, June 10, 2024 in Athens, Ga. NC State won 8-5. (Photo by Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK)

#99 | Alec Makarewicz | Grad. | Third Baseman

Alec Makarewicz was one of the heroes in the NCAA Super Regional, following his Most Outstanding Player weekend in the Regional. Against Georgia, Makarewicz’s two-out, two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning extended the Wolfpack’s lead to four runs in the decisive Game 3 in Athens. Tom Hart with the call:

For the season, Makarewicz, a Second Team All-SEC selection, ranked fifth in his conference, batting .380 with the fourth-best slugging percentage (.744), the second-most RBI (80), and the sixth-most home runs (22). The 22 home runs rank sixth all-time among single seasons by an NC State batter. The 80 RBI rank second. Additionally, he is one base hit from breaking a tie for first in the NC State record books for total bases (186).

Simply put, Makarewicz is one of the best hitters to wear a Wolfpack baseball uniform.

#33 Garrett Pennington | Grad. | First Baseman

May 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; NC State Wolfpack infielder Garrett Pennington (33) makes a catch to get Duke Blue Devils infielder Zac Morris (22) out in the sixth inning during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports (Photo Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports)

Another star hitter for NC State is first baseman Garrett Pennington, who transferred to Raleigh from Wichita State for his final season of college baseball. Like Makarewicz, Pennington etched his name into the record books in his only season with NC State, ranking third in program history with 26 doubles in a single season. With one more, he’ll move into a tie for second all-time. His 26 doubles lead the ACC in 2024. Makarewicz is second with 25.

Last weekend, Pennington hit a two-run, 424-foot bomb to even the score with Georgia in Game 3.

#14 Jacob Cozart | Jr. | Catcher

Behind the plate, Jacob Cozart is a First Team All-ACC selection, a Second Team All-American, and a projected top-50 pick in the upcoming MLB Draft. Cozart can do it all, and against Georgia, his three HRs helped punch the ticket to Omaha. He hit two out in the Game 1 win.

May 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; NC State Wolfpack pitcher Sam HIghfill (17) celebrates with catcher Jacob Cozart (14) after closing out the top of the third inning against the Duke Blue Devils during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports

#17 Sam Highfill | Grad. | Pitcher

Nicknamed “The Mayor,” fifth-year senior Sam Highfill is the righthanded ace for NC State, and he’s a good one. Highfill got a win in his Super Regional start, allowing four hits and only one run in six innings in Athens. He also pitched NC State to Omaha in 2021, so Highfill is already a legend on the mound in Raleigh. This year, he’s held opposing batters to a .225 ERA, the sixth-lowest in the ACC. Highfill has a 7-2 record in 2024 and a 5-1 record in career postseason appearances.

#29 Logan Whitaker | R-Sr. | Pitcher

RHP Logan Whitaker was with Highfill on that 2021 roster and with Highfill in Athens as the starters in the Wolfpack’s two wins in the Supers last weekend. Whitaker, a Sunday starter in 2024, got the nod in the Game 3 elimination game, throwing 4.1 innings with seven strikeouts and two earned runs. He’s had a long journey to get here.

NC State Overall Batting Stats

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