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Instant recap: NC State falls to Georgia, sets up winner take all Game 3

image_6483441 (3)by:Noah Fleischman06/09/24


ATHENS, Ga. — Just after NC State unleashed its hard-hitting lineup to open the Athens Super Regional, Georgia coach Wes Johnson turned the page to a pivotal Game 2. 

“Here’s the great thing about our game — nothing carries over to tomorrow,” Johnson said after the Pack took the opener by a 17-run margin on Saturday. “The scoreboard goes back to 0-0.”

Well, he was right and the Bulldogs gave the Wolfpack a taste of its own medicine 24 hours later. Georgia leveled the series with an 11-2 win over NC State on Sunday afternoon at Foley Field. 

Georgia and NC State will meet in Monday’s Game 3 to determine who earns a trip to the Men’s College World Series in Omaha. 

In the early going, the Bulldogs blitzed the Pack with five runs through the first three innings — all via the long ball — while starter Leighton Finley contained NC State’s hitters for most of his outing. 

Georgia’s Slate Alford set the tone with a two-run blast to left field as the third batter of the game. Designated hitter Tre Phelps followed that home run up in the third with a three-run jack of his own, giving the Bulldogs a comfortable lead on the Wolfpack. 

Though Georgia opened the game up early, NC State had an opportunity to put pressure on the Bulldogs with two on and one out in the second. But costly base running errors — which were few and far between in the opener — vanquished that threat before it even began. 

Junior catcher Jacob Cozart hesitated on his decision to tag on a shallow pop up and once he did, he was thrown out at third with ease. Soon after, junior shortstop Brandon Butterworth was caught stealing to end the inning. 

That opportunity was the only real chance the Wolfpack could manufacture before the Bulldogs continued to blow the game open. Georgia scored three more in the fourth, chasing NC State starter Dominic Fritton after 50 pitches — three innings, seven runs on seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

NC State’s offense, which pounded 20 hits in Game 1, logged nine in the loss. Butterworth led the team with a 2-for-4 day at the plate with a pair of singles. Cozart hit his third homer of the weekend, a solo blast off the scoreboard in right, in the eighth as well.

Freshman lefty Ryan Marohn was tasked with eating innings for the Pack, which saved several key bullpen arms for the series finale, after Fritton’s early exit. The Chantilly, Va., native went four innings and allowed four runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. 

The Wolfpack sets up well for the final game of the weekend, likely throwing graduate right-hander Logan Whitaker with freshmen Cooper Consiglio and Jacob Dudan, and sophomore Derrick Smith all available from the bullpen. 

But with the Wolfpack’s backs against the wall for the first time this postseason, NC State may use the same mindset Georgia did to overcome a postseason blowout loss. If it doesn’t, a trip to Omaha could be an uphill climb to secure in the final game of the series. 

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