June 25 (UPI) — N.C. State suffered a 3-1 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first game of the College World Series semifinals Friday in Omaha after COVID-19 issues left the Wolfpack with only 13 available players.
The NCAA delayed the start of the game by an hour as it attempted to figure out which players needed to enter the health and safety protocols. After the NCAA determined who was required to sit out, N.C. State was left with just nine position players and four pitchers.
“Several players from the team have been put into COVID-19 protocol and will be unavailable for today’s game,” the team said in a statement before the game. “N.C. State, the NCAA and appropriate parties are working together to monitor the situation.”
Freshman pitcher Garrett Payne, who had six appearances this season, made his first start for the Wolfpack. Sam Highfill, who was the starting pitcher in N.C. State’s 1-0 victory over Vanderbilt on Monday, was the starting first baseman Friday and among four players at the bottom of the lineup who had a combined 27 at-bats and eight starts.
The Commodores grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when C.J. Rodriguez singled home a run and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Wolfpack finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, when DeAngelo Giles scored Carson Falsken on a sacrifice fly. That proved to be as close as N.C. State would get to the lead, however, as Vanderbilt added another run on Parker Noland’s RBI single to clinch the 3-1 win.
With the loss, N.C. State will now play Vanderbilt on Saturday for its last chance at the College World Series final.