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CWS Finals Start Without N.C. State Due to COVID-19

Brock Fritz

The College World Series will start back up Monday night. While Mississippi State won its way to the finals, Vanderbilt advanced due to the NCAA pulling North Carolina State from the Omaha, Neb., tournament due to COVID-19 protocols.

 

The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee announced N.C. State’s removal at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning, declaring the deciding game of the Vanderbilt versus N.C. State series a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols.

 “This decision was made based on the recommendation of the championship medical team and the Douglas County Health Department,” the statement reads. “As a result, Vanderbilt will advance to the CWS finals.

“The NCAA and the committee regret that N.C. State’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate. Because of privacy issues, we cannot provide further details.”

According to The Associated Press, Douglas County Health Department spokesman Phil Rooney said the health department did not recommend N.C. State’s removal, but told the NCAA it would support their decision.

The Associated Press reported that N.C. State only had 13 of its 27 players available for its 3-1 loss to Vanderbilt on Friday, as the NCAA delayed the game an hour while several players went into protocol. Unvaccinated individuals have been tested for COVID-19 every other day at the College World Series. D1 Baseball’s Aaron Fitt reported that two unvaccinated N.C. State players tested positive, leading the NCAA to test the entire roster, which led to four more positives.

“My job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. “But I don’t try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my opinions. Obviously, we talk about a lot of things. But these are young men that can make their own decisions and that’s what they did.

“If you want to talk baseball, we can talk baseball. If you want to talk politics or stuff like that, you can go talk to my head of sports medicine, Rob Murphy.”

Avent said when given the choice to play or forfeit Friday’s game, all the players wanted to play.

"This is a heartbreaking situation and I'm gutted for everyone involved and for all those that were captivated by the heart and fight of this team," Avent said in a release from the N.C. State athletic department "Our medical staff and our players have been incredible this season with all they've done to keep us safe and get us ready to play, day in and day out. I love this team and this past month, many people that got to watch them, fell in love with them as well. Although we're all heartbroken, this team will never be forgotten and will live in the hearts of Wolfpack and baseball fans forever."

“Words can’t even describe this feeling,” Wolfpack outfielder Devonte Brown tweeted. “An opportunity of a lifetime, something you dream of as a little kid just snatched away in the blink of an eye.”

The Wolfpack went home with a 37-19 record, while Vanderbilt and Mississippi State will play a three-game series this week for the NCAA title. TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha is still operating at 100 percent capacity, with more than 25,000 fans allowed in the stadium without required masks or coronavirus tests.

"The last 24 hours have been extremely difficult for everyone involved and my heart goes out to the student-athletes, coaches and staff of our baseball program," N.C. State director of athletics Boo Corrigan said. "This is an excruciating way to have their season come to a conclusion, we appreciate their efforts all year long, as well as the incredible support from Wolfpack Nation. No one will ever forget how they came together, inspired us all, and how they represented NC State. The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff will always be our unwavering priority. The timing of this is simply devastating for everyone involved, but it doesn't diminish their incredible accomplishments this season."

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