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Heroics From Freshman Put N.C. State In First College World Series Since 2013

NCAA NC State Arkansas Baseball
Michael Woods
North Carolina State's Jose Torres (8) is greeted by teammates after hitting a go-ahead home run against Arkansas in the ninth inning of an NCAA college baseball super regional game, Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark.

N.C. State's baseball team is moving on to the College World Series after beating top-seeded Arkansas in a three-game series over the weekend.

The Wolfpack came from behind in the series; they lost 21-2 in the first game Friday.

After a win Saturday, freshman shortstop Jose Torres sealed the series win with a tiebreaking home run in top of the ninth inning off SEC pitcher of the year Kevin Kopps in Game Three on Sunday. N.C. State won the game 3-2, punching their first ticket to the College World Series since 2013.

Arkansas (51-13) had been the consensus No. 1 team in the polls most of the season and hadn't lost a best-of-three series since May 2019.

Torres has been on a hot streak lately, hitting safely in 12 of his last 16 games. On the year, the Baltimore, Maryland, native has a .291 batting average, 10 home runs and 44 RBIs — an impressive batting average for a freshman. He hit a homer in each of the Wolfpack’s games vs. the Razorbacks.

Relief pitcher Evan Justice got the win for the Wolfpack in the third game vs. Arkansas. The 6-foot-4 junior lefty from Richmond, Virginia, threw two perfect innings to close out the game, striking out two Razorbacks while not allowing anyone on-base.

The Wolfpack are 35-18 on the year, and it’s just the third time ever that the Wolfpack have been to the College World Series. Their first appearance was in 1968.

“They're a really good group of players and committed to one another,” Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. “They've been together and lived together four years now, and when you live together, go to class together, study together and do all the social things, you become bonded.”

East Carolina University lost in their Super Regional series to Vanderbilt on Saturday. Joining N.C. State and Vanderbilt in Omaha, Nebraska at the World Series will be Texas, Stanford, Tennessee and Arizona. Two spots are still open in the eight-team World Series field. They’ll be filled by the winners of Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia and Mississippi State vs. Notre Dame.

N.C. State will face Stanford in the College World Series opener.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cole del Charco is WUNC’s morning reporter. He’s worked for WUNC since 2019.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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