They were America’s team this year in Omaha. NC State was on their third trip to the College World Series and on a roll. After losing a blowout in the first game of the Super Regionals against Arkansas, the Pack went on to beat the number one team in the country in the next two games. Then they would go 2-0 against Stanford and star Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter. The Wolfpack was on a roll and it seemed like nothing in the world could stop them, but then the NCAA did.
Full disclosure I am a proud alumnus of NC State and a lifelong fan. I wasn’t born for the basketball National Championships so this was the closest I’ve been to seeing my beloved team crowned National Champs in a team sport. But I wasn’t the only one, this team had captured the hearts of the nation with the way they turned their season around and how fun they were to watch. Which has led many people to ask the question what went wrong? The situation seems off just and filled with hypocrisy to say the least.
Just minutes before the Wolfpack self-dubbed as “Pack 9” were set to take the field Friday it was announced that the game was being delayed due to COVID. One player from NC State had tested positive and the entire team was being re-tested. The game began just over an hour later with just 13 players cleared to take the field for the Pack. In a game that they had to opportunity to forfeit, and had a request denied by the NCAA to move and play a doubleheader the following day, they lost a close 3-1 game against one of the nation’s top pitchers. With 13 players. With a pitcher (Sam Highfill) playing first base and going 3-3 for three in his first 3 at-bats of the entire season. The winning runs were on-base at the end of the game, and while the defeat was gut-wrenching it proved just how talented this team was and how much they wanted this. Wolfpack Nation firmly believed we’d get some players back for Saturday’s game and we’d have a chance to make the finals. But at 2:01 AM ET on Saturday morning, in a social media post that was ripped from the team leaving many, many questions unanswered.
NCAA Statement from Division I Baseball Committee:— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 26, 2021
The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has declared the Vanderbilt-NC State Men’s College World Series game scheduled for Saturday, June 26 at 1 p.m. Central time a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols. #CWS pic.twitter.com/amxdQwkQ6l
If contact tracing was the issue how were any of Vanderbilt’s players allowed to continue on? Why were NC State’s vaccinated players tested when that was not part of the protocol? Why was a player who according to his mother tested negative 6 times not allowed to play in the game on Friday? I along with NC State fans and college baseball fans around the county was fired up about this all while being heartbroken. Social media was outraged and 1000’s of fans welcomed the Pack 13 who played Friday’s game back to Raleigh at Doak Field Saturday night. Enjoy some of the best reactions to the NCAA and the Wolfpack team who according to Head Coach Elliot Avent “won the 2021 National Championship game that was never played.”
I may or may not have the shirt in the 4th picture above ordered for myself.
🗣 VANDY’S DADDY 🗣 pic.twitter.com/SDmHsyHMnk— F THE NCAA Barstool Pack (@BarstoolPack) June 27, 2021
How great would it be if MSU requests Vandy testing an hr before, and makes NCAA enforce contact tracing protocols/proof of negative test due to exposure to NC State players? Would be a full-circle moment.— Phil Davidson (@PhilDavidson31) June 28, 2021
We will never know who truly was the best team in college baseball in 2021, but one thing is for sure this team won’t be forgotten. Think they were wrongfully removed from the tournament? Here is a petition you can sign.