Wolfpack headed to Kentucky, UNC and Wake host NCAA regionals

UNC Greensboro and Davidson also received bids to the NCAA baseball tournament, which begins with regional play at 16 sites on Friday

Christine T. Nguyen—North State Journal
NC State head coach Elliott Avent shakes hands with catcher Andrew Knizner (11) during last year's NCAA baseball tournament regional in Raleigh

NC State’s late season momentum was slowed at the ACC tournament by a disastrous first inning against rival North Carolina that helped eliminate the Wolfpack in pool play on Friday. But that turned out to be only a temporary setback. Coach Elliott Avent’s team earned a chance at redeeming itself Monday, while also erasing some painful postseason memories from the past two seasons, as an at large selection to the upcoming NCAA tournament. State, (34-23) is the No. 3 seed in the Lexington, Ky., Regional, where it will begin play Friday at 7 p.m. against second-seeded Indiana (33-22-2). Top-seeded and regional host Kentucky (39-20) will face fourth-seeded Ohio in the other opening round game of the double-elimination bracket. The winner of the Lexington Regional will be paired in a Super Regional against the winner of a bracket that includes host Louisville, Oklahoma, Xavier and Radford. The Wolfpack, which comes into the tournament having won 14 of its last 17, are one of five state representatives selected into the 64-team NCAA field. ACC rivals North Carolina and Wake Forest, Southern Conference champion UNC Greensboro and Atlantic 10 winner Davidson are the others. The Tar Heels (47-12) and Wildcats (34-24) will be matched against one another in an opening round game in Chapel Hill at 7 p.m. on Friday. Despite being the No. 2 national seed, this is anything but a breather for UNC. Coach Mike Fox’s team needed three runs in the bottom of the ninth and one in the 10th to escape with a 7-6 win against Davidson in a regular season game at Boshamer Stadium on May 9. Should the Tar Heels win their regional, they would then host the winner of a region consisting of Houston, Texas A&M, Baylor and Iowa in a Super Regional. Wake Forest (39-18) will host second-seeded West Virginia (34-24), No. 3 Maryland (37-21) and No. 4 UMBC (23-23) in its first regional in Winston-Salem since 2002. The Deacons will open play against UMBC on Friday at 7 p.m. The regional winner will advance to a Super Regional against the winner of the Gainesville, Fla. bracket of host Florida, South Florida, Bethune-Cookman and Marist. UNCG, meanwhile, figures to have a realistic chance at playing spoiler as the No. 4 seed at the Clemson regional against a host team that comes into the tournament having gone just 16-15 in its last 31 games. The Trojans (35-22) will take on the Tigers (39-19) in the late game Friday. Second seeded Vanderbilt (33-22-1) is paired against No. 3 St. John’s (42-11 in the other first round game with the regional winner facing the task of a Super Regional matchup with top overall seed Oregon State. The 16 regional winners will play a best-of-three Super Regional series with the survivors advancing to the College World Series on June 17-28 in Omaha, Neb.