OMAHA, Neb. — It was another rough afternoon for ACC pitcher of the year Kent Emanuel.
North Carolina’s ace failed to make it out of the third inning for a second straight start, and the Tar Heels lost 8-1 to North Carolina State in their College World Series opener Sunday.
“Just not making the pitches I need to,” Emanuel said. “Basically, it’s simple as that.”
The Tar Heels (57-11) are in Omaha for the sixth time in eight years. They lost their first game at the CWS for the third straight time.
They’ll play an elimination game Tuesday against LSU, a 2-1 loser to UCLA in the late game. The Tar Heels haven’t lost back to back games all season.
“You have to rely on the leaders on your team to rally, and they’ve been able to do that all year long,” Carolina coach Mike Fox said. “It’ll be another really good team, and we’ll obviously have to play better. I have confidence in my guys. It’s disappointing today. I have no doubt we’ll be ready Tuesday.”
North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon pitched eight shutout innings to continue his mastery of North Carolina. He held the No. 1 national seed Tar Heels hitless into the fifth inning. He allowed five hits and struck out eight.
It was the sophomore left-hander’s second straight dominating performance against the Tar Heels. Three weeks ago he allowed one hit and struck out 14 in 10 innings but got no decision in a 2-1, 18-inning loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Brett Williams, Bryan Adametz and Logan Ratledge had two hits apiece for the Wolfpack (50-14), with Ratledge driving in two runs out of the No. 9 hole.
NC State and Carolina, whose campuses are 28 miles apart, were meeting for the 285th time in baseball but never on this big a stage.