NC State freshman Sam Highfill silenced the GA Tech bats while the Wolfpack offense put up 8 runs on 6 hits to beat the Yellow Jackets and advance to the ACC Championship title game.
“It was a good ball game two great teams. Georgia Tech is really good, really dangerous. They have a lot of guys they can get the guys out of the ballpark and they hit a couple balls tonight that I thought may go and probably would earlier in the day but tonight the winds seem to be blowing in a little bit,” said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. “We got a couple of breaks and made the most of it and Sam (HighfilI) was really good and we played a pretty good ball game.
Highfill cruised through 6 and a third innings striking out 5, scattering 4 hits and giving up just one earned run. Evan Justice tallied his ninth save of the season as he tossed 2.2 hitless innings, which is tied for the most among all relievers in the ACC.
“It’s easy to pitch in front of these guys they play hard they are really good and I enjoy it every time,” said Sam Highfill.
“It’s a lot easier as a pitcher going out there competing knowing you got those guys behind you,” said pitcher Evan Justice . “They’re always capable of doing something like that so you’re just pitching to contact no you had great players behind you.”
NC State got big games at the plate from Luca Tresh, 2-4, HR, 2B and an RBI. Tyler McDonough had a HR and 2 RBI. Vojtech Mensik turned a walk into a run with a pair of stolen bases and error. The biggest blow came from JT Jarrett. The Wolpack’s number 9 hitter was 1-2 but his double in the second inning drove in 3 runs giving NC State the lead for good and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“He did the same thing against Pitt with second and third he hit that same ball down the line and he did it again tonight,” said coach Avent. “I think Mike Bell said it very well he (Jarrett) might be in the nine hole but he’s not a nine hole hitter so to speak. He’s a competitor and when you compete good things happen and he’s been kind of like our Bucky Dent this series.”
This will be the Wolfpack’s first tournament final appearance since 2015 as it seeks its first title since 1992. NC State had one of the bumpier starts in program history. The Wolfpack began the season 1-8 in ACC play including a sweep at the hands of these same Yellow Jackets. Fitting they would have to go through GA Tech to make it back to the championship game.
“It shows how good of a team we are because Georgia Tech is really good they have a lot of good hitters,” said Highfill. “They hit a lot of balls hard today and we were able to come out on top.”
“I think that just speaks to the resilience of this team you know we never quit we never put our heads down,” said Justice. “We didn’t get off to the start we wanted to but we continued to go to work every day at practice. We practiced hard and then you know we found a little rhythm here so I hope they keep it rolling from there.”
Now the Wolfpack will face the Blue Devils. A natural rival in every sport Duke is a team nobody thought would make the tournament much less make the title game. The guys from Durham are one of the hottest teams playing. Their current 11 game win streak is the longest in the ACC this season……. and they face them Sunday at noon.
“They are a really good baseball team,” said Highfill “It means a little bit more to me now because my brother actually graduated from Duke about a week ago so we’ll see if we can beat them.”
“It’s more a testament to Duke University and our guys in NC State and what both teams did started out a little rough,” said coach Avent. “Stick with things and good things usually happen if you stick with it for a long period of time especially in baseball.”
First pitch for the title game is set for 12 p.m.