JOHNSON: Two Outs? No Problem...

OMAHA, Neb. - NC State came through with clutch hits, scoring five runs with two outs and blowing out its arch-rival on college baseball's biggest stage.

Carlos Rodon pitched just like he was supposed to, and the NC State bats came to life against UNC pitching in the biggest game in the history of the rivalry. On the biggest stage, in their biggest game to date, the Pack relaxed and came up with big hit after big hit to give Rodon the kind of run support he's lacked in recent outings.

In the Pack's last meeting with North Carolina – the 18-inning marathon that ended in heartbreak – the Wolfpack's numbers with men in scoring position were cover-your-eyes terrible. The Pack finished the game 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-7 with two outs and men in scoring position. The frustration seemed to mount as the game went later and later into the night and the Pack continued to let opportunities get away, eventually costing the Pack a win and a shot at an ACC title.

That all changed dramatically on Sunday, when the first five runs of the game all came on two-out hits and four of them came in two-out, runners in scoring position situations. The Pack chased Carolina starter Kent Emanuel out of the game before the end of the third inning by hitting three straight two-out, run scoring hits as Grant Clyde, Brett Williams and Logan Ratledge all had RBI hits to knock out Emanuel. The Pack was locked in on the struggling Emanuel from the start and didn't allow him to escape when he put runners on base.

"Two-out hits win you games," Rodon said, succinctly, after the game.

Brett Austin had a slightly more elaborate explanation of why the team was able to break through with runners in scoring position today against its arch-rival.

"I feel like we did a great job with our approaches today," the sophomore catcher said. "Trying not to let the big stage amp us up too much, trying to stay within ourselves and do what we've been doing all year. And I think we did a really good job of that, swinging at pitches in the zone and getting the barrel on it and finding holes."

The Pack finished the day 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position and hit an even .500 (5-for-10) with two outs and runners in scoring position. Avent said his team is simply playing really well right now, but did say that the coaching staff has been working on the Pack's situational hitting all year and it paid off today.

"That is a pounding into the head of these guys to have successful at-bats one pitch at a time," Avent said. "Winning a pitch, winning an at-bat, not trying to do too much."

Even in the later innings, when the two out hits stopped coming, the Pack was able to tack on insurance runs by putting the ball in play. Austin drove in a run in the eighth with a sac fly, then Jake Armstrong and Ratledge both had RBI ground outs in the 9th to bring home two more runs.

"Logan Ratledge's at-bat where he gets that ground ball to second base instead of trying to hit a gap or find Sportscenter - that's what you have to do," Avent said.

The Pack will need that same patient, don't do too much approach on Tuesday night as it tries to stay in the winner's bracket of the College World Series. The Pack may have been happy to be here, but they don't seem too interested in leaving any time soon.

"This… this is cool," Avent said.


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