A rematch in Omaha between N.C. State and Vanderbilt baseball was delayed Friday afternoon after both teams were escorted off the field due to “health and safety” protocols related to COVID-19.
According to initial reports from the scene, “N.C. State announced that an undisclosed number of players have been placed into COVID-19 protocols,” with several players believed to have tested positive minutes before playing Vanderbilt’s formidable pitching duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. Those players are now in quarantine.
An entirely new N.C. State starting lineup was then released:
Moments before Game 11 of the College World Series, N.C. State announced that they will be allowed to play with only 13 active players if they want to avoid forfeiting the contest to Vandy.
Friday’s CWS matchup was set to begin at 1 p.m. (CDT) in Omaha, then rescheduled for 2:07 p.m (CDT).
Freshman pitcher Garrett Payne will make his first career start for the Wolfpack. Payne has been recorded for a total of 8 innings pitched this season, all in relief. The COVID protocols enforced by the NCAA has transformed N.C. State’s roster into something completely different than the red-hot Wolfpack coming into Friday’s game.
N.C. State defeated Vanderbilt on Monday in a 1-0 shutout of the Commodores.
Notable N.C. State players who have not taken the field include second baseman J.T. Jarrett and relief pitcher Evan Justice, who were previously mentioned by N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent when discussing a “bug” going around the locker room.
In an interview following Monday’s win against Vanderbilt, coach Avent mentioned that associate head coach, Chris Hart, was also sick throughout the week.
“I just think we need rest,” said Avent. “Everybody knew we don’t have a deep, deep bullpen. We’ve battled that all year. So to go in that loser’s bracket would have been tough for us. But the main thing I think is the rest right now. Coach Hart’s been sick for probably five or six days. J.T. Jarrett caught the bug a couple days ago. This bug seems to be going around. Cameron Cotter. I’ve got it a little bit. This bug seems to be floating around. And I think right now it’s important for our players to get some rest.”
Vanderbilt looks to stay alive in the College World Series after an incredible walk-off win against Stanford on Wednesday.