Freshman pitcher allows two hits in 7.1 innings as NC State wins 10th straight with Highfill on the mound
OMAHA, NEB. – NC State freshman pitcher Sam Highfill threw 7.1 innings of two-hit ball and junior Terrell Tatum blasted a home run in the fifth inning to give the Pack a 1-0 win over fourth-seed Vanderbilt Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
The two teams combined for just six hits, and Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter had retired the first 12 NC State batters he faced until Tatum led off the fifth inning with a no-doubt towering home run to right field to give the Pack the only run it would need.
NC State improves to 37-18 on the season while Vanderbilt moves to 46-16 overall.
Highfill only allowed two hits, both singles, and walked just two as the Commodores didn’t get a runner past first base until the eighth inning.
After Vanderbilt’s C.J. Rodriguez led off the eighth with a walk, the Commodores sent him to second via a sacrifice bunt. That ended the day for Highfill as the Pack turned to its closer Evan Justice for the final five outs.
Justice slammed the door on Vandy’s eighth, inducing a ground ball out and then striking out leadoff hitter Enrique Bradfield Jr. to end the Commodore scoring threat.
Vanderbilt again led off the ninth inning with a walk, but Justice got the Dores’ three-hole hitter Dominic Keegan to hit into a double play.
Justice closed the game out with a strike three call to complete a two-hit shutout of Vanderbilt.
For the third consecutive outing the NC State batters faced one of the nation’s most vaunted pitchers as Leiter, expected to be picked in the top-five in the coming Major League Baseball draft, started for the Commodores. The Vandy right-hander finished the game with 15 strikeouts as he allowed just four hits.
NC State advances in the winner’s bracket and will return to action on Friday, June 25 at 2 p.m. ET when it faces the winner of Wednesday’s elimination game between Vanderbilt and Stanford.
–Sam Highfill improves to 9-2 on the season and NC State has now won 10 straight times when Highfill starts the game.
–Evan Justice got the save for the Pack, his 13th of the season. In postseason action, Justice has appeared in five of NC State’s eight games and in those five games has posted one win and four saves.
-Justice now stands alone at third all-time in Wolfpack history for most saves in a single season.
– NC State is the first team to beat both the No. 1 national seed (Arkansas) and the defending national champion (Vanderbilt) in a single NCAA Tournament since seeding began in 1999.
-In NC State’s last three games, it has faced Arkansas’s Kevin Kopps (12-1), Stanford’s Brendan Beck (9-2) and Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter (10-4). Those three have a combined record of 31-7 this season, but are 0-3 against the Pack.
-NC State handed Vanderbilt its first shutout loss since March 17, 2019.
COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS