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NC State uses a huge second inning to earn an 18-1 win over Georgia in Athens Super Regional

NC, State is one win away from the College World Series.

The Wolfpack had a dominant, record-breaking day against Georgia on Saturday in the opening game of the Athens Super Regional, putting up 11 runs in the second inning on their way to an 18-1 victory at Foley Field.

The Pack (37-20), seeded No. 10 in the NCAA baseball tournament, has a chance to close out the best-of-three Super Regional on Sunday in another afternoon start. For the Bulldogs (42-16), the No. 7 national seed, it will be an elimination game and a chance to atone for Saturday’s loss.

The Pack, which swept through the Raleigh Regional last week, got the bats going early and never stopped. Seven players had two or more hits – the Wolfpack finished with 20 – while Jacob Cozart hit a pair of home runs, and Eli Serrano III, Garrett Pennington and Alec Makarewicz also homered.

That made things a lot less stressful for Wolfpack starter Sam Highfill, one of the State players who was on the 2021 College World Series team and wants another appearance. The Apex graduate gave the Pack six strong innings, with the righthander allowing one run on four hits, before turning things over to Andrew Shaffner after throwing 111 pitches – Shaffner had three hitless innings to close out the game.

Makarewicz finished with four hits and three runs scored, Noah Soles drove in five runs — all in the second inning — and freshman left fielder Luke Nixon had three hits, scored three runs and drove in three runs.

The first pitch of the game was thrown by Georgia starter Kolten Smith at 12:06. At 12:46, NC State had a 7-0 lead, the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the second inning. Smith walked to the dugout, his day over.

When the damage was done by the Wolfpack in the second it was 11-0. Three players had two singles in the inning and Soles had a pair of doubles and drove in five.

Everyone in the Wolfpack lineup singled in the inning except Cozart, whose grounder caused trouble when Georgia botched a potential double play with a bad throw to second base.

The Pack had 11 runs on 11 hits, both school records for a Super Regional game.

Cozart, who was not allowed to be left out of the striking deluge, promptly homered in the third inning with a deep shot to right field for a 12-0 lead. His two-out, RBI single in the fifth pushed the lead to 13-0.

The Bulldogs broke through against Highfill in the fifth on Corey Collins’ RBI single. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Highfill got Dylan Goldstein to ground out to second base. That was that.

The peloton continued to find ways to score. In the sixth, Nixon singled, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and advanced to third base on a flyout. Nixon scored when Wolfpack hitter Soles was hit in the helmet on a bad throw from catcher Henry Hunter – a 14-1 lead.

Georgia third baseman Charlie Condon, who should be the consensus pick for national player of the year, had an 0-for-3 day as the Pack pitched carefully to the Bulldogs star.

NCSU coach Elliott Avent indicated he would stick with his normal pitching rotation, meaning lefthander Dom Fritton will likely start Game 2 on Sunday.

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