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Instant recap: NC State beats Georgia to punch ticket to College World Series

image_6483441 (3)by:Noah Fleischman06/10/24


ATHENS, Ga. — NC State coach Elliott Avent made a promise to himself more than two decades ago: He’d only go to the Men’s College World Series with 27 players in tow and a game to play at Charles Schwab Field. 

He taught one coaching clinic there during his tenure at New Mexico State, but was determined to go to the heartland with his squad playing in the event. Since then, Avent has taken two NC State teams to Omaha — and now he’ll have another trip to make this weekend. 

The Wolfpack, led by graduate outfielder Eli Serrano III’s all-around game, beat Georgia 8-5 in Game 3 of the Athens Super Regional at Foley Field on Monday night to punch its ticket to the College World Series — its second trip in four years. 

Serrano, who went 3-for-4 with a double and home run, was the star of the show for the Wolfpack on both sides of the game. He excelled at the plate, while he also was a standout in center. Serrano robbed a game-tying home run in the seventh, which allowed the Wolfpack to stay ahead of the Bulldogs and coast to the win. 

But before Serrano was rolling, it was graduate right-hander Logan Whitaker that set the tone. He accomplished what was asked of him and went 4.1 innings with just two runs allowed on two hits with a walk and seven strikeouts to get the Pack into the fifth. 

The Winston-Salem, N.C., native was in a bases-loaded jam with Georgia star Charlie Condon at the plate when Avent decided to go to his fresh bullpen. He called on freshman righty Jacob Dudan, who more than delivered for the Pack. 

Dudan gave Condon a healthy dose of nothing but sliders and got the expected top-five pick to strikeout on four pitches. The freshman then induced a full-count groundout to escape the Bulldogs’ threat. 

While that sequence was momentum shifting, Serrano led off with a solo shot on the first pitch he saw to give the Pack a three-run advantage, continuing NC State’s high energy at the plate. 

From there on, the Wolfpack was able to keep itself in front of the Bulldogs. NC State and Georgia matched runs in the sixth and seventh inning to keep the score a two-run Wolfpack lead going into the eighth. 

And in the eighth, well, junior third baseman Alec Makarewicz made sure the Bulldogs would not have any opportunity to claw their way back. He clubbed a two-run homer to center field, doubling the Pack’s lead, breathing more juice into the visitor’s dugout in Athens. 

Makarewicz went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI, while graduate first baseman Garrett Pennington chipped in with a 2-for-5 night that included a double and a two-run homer.

Sophomore closer Derrick Smith closed the door on the Bulldogs with three innings of stellar relief, where he conceded run on one hit with two strikeouts. 

Now, after an up and down weekend in Athens, the Wolfpack will look towards Omaha in search of the program’s first national championship. No. 2 Kentucky awaits NC State for a Saturday afternoon showdown to open both teams’ trips to the pinnacle of college baseball. 

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