Lead photo credit and press release: NC State Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. – For the fourth time in program history and the third time since 2013, the NC State baseball team is heading to the Men’s College World Series after defeating No. 7 national seed Georgia 8-5 in a winner-take-all Super Regional matchup on Monday night at Foley Field.

NC State (38-21) recorded its 16th comeback win of the season to punch its ticket to Omaha on Monday night. The Wolfpack’s victory also marked the third time head coach Elliott Avent has led his NC State squad to Omaha.

The Wolfpack will face No. 2 national seed Kentucky (45-14) on Saturday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.

Georgia (43-17) struck first with a two-run homer from Tre Phelps in the second. Phelps’ two-run shot came after Dylan Goldstein opened the bottom of the second with a leadoff walk.

Garrett Pennington answered Phelps’ two-run shot with a long ball to center field of his own, ripping a two-run homer in the top of the third to level the score at 2-2. Pennington’s second homer of the Super Regional and fourth of the NCAA Tournament also scored Eli Serrano III after the Wolfpack leadoff batter singled to open the third.

The Wolfpack pulled ahead for the first time Monday with a pair of runs in the fourth. Matt Heavner opened the inning with a leadoff double before Noah Soles drew a walk to put a pair of runners on with nobody out. Serrano III then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up 90 feet apiece. A passed ball on Georgia catcher Fernando Gonzalez allowed Heavner to race home for a 3-2 lead. Alec Makarewicz then singled to left field to extend the Pack’s lead to 4-2.

Logan Whitaker shut down the Bulldogs’ offense over 4.1 innings pitched, scattering only four hits and allowing just two runs with seven strikeouts. Whitaker retired the side in order in the first and third frames, slicing through the top of Georgia’s lineup twice.

In the bottom of the fifth, Georgia put runners at the corners with back-to-back hits, turning it over to the top of the lineup for leadoff batter Corey Collins. Collins then was hit by a pitch to load the bases for SEC Player of the Year Charlie Condon. The Wolfpack then brought in freshman reliever Jacob Dudan with one out and the bases loaded.

Dudan needed just four pitches to strike out Condon, getting the Georgia third baseman to chase a 1-2 slider for the second out. The freshman right-hander then induced a groundout from Slate Alford to strand all three Bulldog runners.

Serrano III then belted a leadoff homer on the first pitch of the sixth to build off Dudan’s momentum to extend the Pack’s lead to 5-2. The Bulldogs countered with a sacrifice fly from Gonzalez in the bottom half to trim the score to 5-3.

Freshman designated hitter Alex Sosa then re-established the Pack’s three-run advantage with a solo shot of his own in the seventh, making it 6-3 NC State. The Bulldogs again swapped scores with a single run in the bottom of the seventh when Goldstein brought home Collins on an RBI groundout.

Makarewicz provided the Wolfpack with a pair of key insurance runs in the top of the eighth with a two-out, two-run shot to make it 8-4. Pennington kept the inning alive with a two-out double down the left-field line before Makarewicz’s homer made it a four-run Wolfpack lead.

Condon smacked a solo shot in the ninth, but Wolfpack closer Derrick Smith slammed the door for his team-high eighth save of the season after allowing just one run over the final three innings pitched.

Serrano III and Sosa paced the Wolfpack with three hits apiece. Makarewicz led the Wolfpack with three RBI.

NC State will face Kentucky in its opening round game at the 2024 NCAA Men’s College World Series. NC State and Kentucky will face off on Saturday at Omaha’s Charles Schwab Field at 2 p.m. ET. Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN.