OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Jonny Butler homered and drove in a career-high five runs, Reid Johnston pitched six strong innings and North Carolina State opened the College World Series with a 10-4 victory over Stanford on Saturday.
The Wolfpack (36-18), who knocked out No. 1 national seed Arkansas in the super regionals last week, continued their postseason roll in the first CWS game since 2019. The 2020 event was canceled because of the pandemic.
NC State got out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Butler’s homer to right off Pac-12 pitcher of the year Brendan Beck. After Devonte Brown barely cleared the fence in right-center in the fourth to give NC State at least two homers in 17 of its last 21 games, Butler’s two-run bloop single made it 6-0.
Beck (9-2) left with two outs in the sixth having allowed six runs, three earned, on seven hits. He walked two and struck out 10.
No. 9 seed Stanford (38-16), which outscored Texas Tech 24-3 in a two-game super-regional sweep, was slow to get started against Johnston (9-3).
Johnston, who allowed seven runs in three innings in a 21-2 loss to Arkansas in NC State’s super regional opener last week, limited the Cardinal to Tim Tawa’s solo homer and a single through six innings.
Johnston wore down in the seventh. He allowed four straight hits, including Christian Robinson’s two-run homer inside the right-field foul pole, before closer Evan Justice came on with two runners on base and no outs. Stanford got another run when Vojtech Mensik couldn’t handle Tawa’s hard grounder to third with the bases loaded.
Butler singled for his fifth RBI during a four-run ninth inning for the Wolfpack, and Justice finished for his 12th save.
The game ended on an unconventional double play. Pinch-hitter Carter Graham grounded to second, with J.T. Jarrett flipping the ball to Jose Torres covering the bag. Stanford’s Tommy Troy, running from first to second, didn’t slide on the play and was called for interference. Second-base umpire Billy Van Raaphorst’s call was upheld on video review.
Stanford, making its first CWS appearance since 2008, had won seven straight Omaha openers since 1995.
The Cardinal, which came in 10th nationally in fielding, committed three errors after committing a total of three in their first six NCAA Tournament games.
NC State, in its first CWS since 2013, plays Monday night against the winner of the Arizona-Vanderbilt game Saturday night. Stanford plays the Arizona-Vanderbilt loser Monday afternoon.
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