Recapping Day 1 of the 2021 College World Series

Following its long absence, the Jackson Fryburger College World Series made its triumphant return as Twenty-Two Thousand descended upon Omaha to watch The Greatest Show on Dirt. A nearly eleven hour day combined with theatrics of all shapes and sizes culminated with an all-time moment. The CWS is back and its back in full form. Here’s the breakdown:

North Carolina State: 10, Stanford: 4

After taking two of three from Arkansas in the Fayetteville Super Regional, many questioned if the Wolfpack of NC State would run out of gas. In response, the Pack 9 fired back with a resounding no, or at least not yet.

In the very first inning of the game the Wolfpack put up two runs to take the lead on a Home Run by Jonny Butler off of Stanford starter Brendan Beck. The PAC-12 pitcher of the year was rocked early by NC State as Butler and co. put up six runs through the first four innings. Stanford stopped the run by NC State with a Tim Tawa HR in the bottom of the 4th, moving the score to 6-1.

North Carolina State’s Reid Johnson cruised on the mound for the first six innings of the game, holding the Cardinal to just the one run. However, unfortunately for Johnson, his run would come to an end as Stanford fought back in the 6th. A Christian Robinson homer and an uncharacteristic error by the Pack scored three for the Cardinal and made it a 6-4 ballgame with still two innings left to play.

The 8th inning resulted in nothing for either team setting up for a pivotal 9th. The Wolfpack rose to the challenge in the 9th, exploding for four in the top half of the frame. NC State batted around the entire lineup off the bats of Butler and Vojtek Mensik. From there, Evan Justice finished off his impressive stint and closed the game out, picking up the save and punctuating the win for North Carolina State.

Vanderbilt: 7, Arizona: 6

Following the display of offensive firepower by NC State in the tournament opener, Vanderbilt and Arizona had a good bit to live up to. While neither team matched the run total accomplished by the pack, both teams gave the Omaha crowd a show en route to an instant classic.

Arizona jumped put to a three run lead in the top of the 1st following a collection of timely hits, but Vanderbilt immediately answered with one of their own off of a Troy LaNeve double. Kumar Rocker locked in after the first and pitched four strong. His performance through the middle innings allowed Vandy to tie it up right before the 6th.

Rocker, who had seven K’s on the day, entered the 6th in a tie ballgame, but left it set up for a potential loss in the score column. On the 100th Rocker pitch of the day, Ryan Holgate demolished a two run shot to further the Wildcats cause and put them in the driver’s seat. While this may have been enough to put an average team away, the Commodores are most definitely not an average team. Enrique Bradfield Jr and Carter Young has back to back hits (a single and home run respectively) that shifted the game from down two to up one. With the game on the line in the top of the 9th, Arizona answered the call on a Donta Williams Sac Fly to even the game at 6 and later send the game to extra innings.

From there, the game was deadlocked. In the 10th, both squads were held hitless as a result of phenomenal pitching performances by the relief staffs of both clubs. While Arizona was silenced again in the 11th, Vanderbilt made some noise by loading the bases with no one out. With Arizona’s backs against the wall, Vince Vanelle came in to be the hero, and saved the Wildcats with a strikeout and groundout to end the inning. Unfortunately for Zona, that’s where the positives came to a halt. Again, the Wildcats were stifled in extras by Vanderbilt pitching, leaving the door open for the Commodores to walk it off. For the second straight inning, Vanderbilt did load the bases with one away, and this time they capitalized. An RBI single from the nine hole hitter Jayson Gonzalez snuck through the left side of the infield and sent Vanderbilt forward into the winner’s bracket.

Quotables

Stanford HC David Esquer on the takeaway from their loss to NC State: “But our team is resilient and they’re not going to let up and give up. I think it was just a lesson today that Brendan Beck just can’t do it all by himself. He gets 10 strikeouts in just over five innings, and that’s a good effort.”

NC State’s Jonny Butler on the atmosphere provided by NC State fans: “It felt so great. Our fans travel so well. I know, me, I have a ton of friends and family here, former teammates came to support me. I had a lot of energy coming into this. It was just so exciting.”

Vanderbilt HC Tim Corbin: “Just a tough ball game in a lot of ways, I don’t know if — I guess both sides felt like that thing would never end. But it did. We had to contain them. I thought we did such a good job of that particularly after the first inning.”

Arizona HC Jay Johnson on Monday’s game vs Stanford: “I think if you look too much further beyond that, it complicates Monday. And these guys love playing together and we want to continue to play together. And we want to keep going. I think we have enough pitching to work our way back through it. But it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is Monday. And so everything will be about Monday.”

Day 1 Standouts

NC State’s Jonny Butler: 3-4, 5 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB

Stanford’s Brendan Beck: 5.2 IP, 10 K’s

Vanderbilt’s Jayson Gonzalez: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, Walkoff Hit

Arizona’s Chase Siselth: 6.1 IP, 6 Ks

What’s on Tap?

Day 2: Tennessee vs Virginia, 1:00 PM CT, Mississippi State vs Texas, 6:00 PM CT

Day 3: Stanford vs Arizona (Elimination), 1:00 PM CT, Vanderbilt vs NC State (Winner’s Bracket) 6:00 PM CT

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