North Carolina’s hitters squeaked two runs, one earned, out of Rodon(NC State’s Ace) in five innings, then busted up NC State’s bullpen for five more runs to make it an ugly 7-0 final.
Mostly, though, NC State lost because North Carolina left-hander Hobbs Johnson threw 132 pitches over 8 1/3 shutout innings, allowing only five hits and striking out six. Every one of those 132 pitches was a fastball.
“For pretty much the whole postseason, I’ve been throwing almost all fastballs,” Johnson said. “It’s worked outside of one game against South Carolina. Today, I had better command than I had against South Carolina and FAU [in the regional].”
For Johnson, Thursday night was something between retribution and affirmation, making up for what had so far been a poor postseason and confirming what his team has always known to be true: Deep inside that stocky, 5-foot-11 frame, Johnson possesses the talent and toughness to get him through nights like these on stages like this. North Carolina will play UCLA tonight at 8pm in Omaha.