For The Sanford Herald
The Road to Omaha continues for No. 12 NC State baseball (33-17) this weekend as it travels to No. 1 Arkansas (49-11) for a three-game Super Regional Series at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.
The teams will play Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN2, respectively, and Sunday’s ‘if necessary’ game is slated for 6 p.m. ET on one of those two channels. There will additionally be a live audio stream on WKNC 88.1 and the TuneIn App.
Friday will be the first-ever meeting between the Wolfpack and Razorbacks.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolfpack traveled to Ruston, La., last weekend for the NCAA Regional and went 3-0 in the tournament. It defeated Alabama, 8-1, in the opening-round, then downed host then-No. 17 Louisiana Tech, 8-3 and 14-7, in the final two games to earn its Super Regional berth.
Its 14 runs in the regional final game were the most ever scored in program history in a game of that caliber, and were the third-most ever scored in an NCAA Tournament game.
NC STATE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The 2021 season marks NC State’s 32nd time playing in the NCAA Tournament, as it has earned a berth in 10 out of the last 11 years that the tournament has been held, including six straight years. Impressively, the Pack has participated in the tournament in 16 out of the last 18 years that it has been held.
This year marks the fifth time the Pack has advanced to a Super Regional, and it has reached the College World Series twice, with the last time coming in 2013.
NC State has continued to excel on the road, owning an impressive 17-3 record in true road games this season. Its win percentage (.850) in those games is the best among all NCAA teams.
Additionally, the Pack owns a 20-5 overall record away from Raleigh.
The Razorbacks earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and have topped the national polls for the majority of the season.
Arkansas won the Southeastern Conference regular season and conference tournament championships, as head coach Dave Van Horn was tabbed SEC Coach of the Year and Kevin Kopps earned Pitcher of the Year honors.
Kopps, who was recently named a Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist, leads the team with 31 appearances and owns a .68 ERA with 12 wins and 11 saves in a team-leading 79.2 innings. Patrick Wicklander, Peyton Pallette, Lael Lockhart and Caleb Bolden have all tallied double-digit starts on the mound, while its staff is averaging 10.46 strikeouts per game.
Offensively, the Razorbacks are led by First Team All-SEC selections Robert Moore, who owns a team-high 14 homers, and Matt Goodheart, who paces the squad with 64 hits. Additionally, Brady Slavens leads the team with a .290 batting average while Charlie Welch has provided strong numbers off the bench, batting .375 with 21 hits and 18 RBIs.
As a team, Arkansas is averaging 7.58 runs per game, which ranks first in the SEC and 15th nationally, while its 102 home runs lead the SEC and rank second in the NCAA.
If NC State were to advance out of the Super Regional, it would travel to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park June 19-29/30.