North Carolina State opened the 2021 College World Series on Saturday with a 10-4 win over Stanford. Jonny Butler led the Wolfpack offense. Butler was 3-for-4 with 5 RBI and hit a first-inning home run that set the tone for NC State. "I think I've had some pretty good games but never in a situation like this--in such a big game, big stage. It just felt great."
Butler was riding momentum heading into the College World Series. "I had a lot of confidence coming in here. I thought I played really, really well the last game against Arkansas."
After eliminating Arkansas in the Fayetteville Super Regional, NC State is just two wins away from the College World Series Championship Series.
Reid Johnston set the tone for NC State, holding a prolific Stanford offense to just four runs (three of them earned) in six innings. Superstar closer, Evan Justice earned the three-inning save for the Wolfpack.
Justice knows the importance of staying in the winners' bracket in Omaha. "You want to be on this side of the bracket after the first game. I thought offensively we came out swinging. They did a great job today. So that's always very helpful as a pitcher, having that run support we got today was huge."
Head Coach Elliott Avent was happy with his team's performance. "It's always been a team win with us. That's the way it's been all year. . . . I said it at the beginning of the year, this is a team that throughout the lineup can figure out how to be productive and score runs. And that's the name of the game."
NC State will next face the winner of Vanderbilt and Arizona who play later in the evening. Stanford will play the loser of the game.
Said Stanford Head Coach David Esquer after the loss, "our team is resilient and they're not going to let up and give up." The Cardinal have won two of three games against Arizona this season and have yet to play Vanderbilt on the year.