NC State freshman shortstop Jose Torres hit a shot heard round the college baseball world on Sunday, homering off Arkansas’ likely Golden Spikes Award winner Kevin Kopps leading off the top of the ninth inning, as the Wolfpack stunned the top-seeded and top-ranked Razorbacks 3-2 to earn a berth in the College World Series.
Torres’ blast came after Arkansas tied the score 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out solo homer by Cayden Wallace.
Kopps, the front-runner for college baseball’s top award, entered the game with a 0.66 ERA and a 12-0 record with 11 saves; he had allowed only six runs in 80⅓ innings this season. On Sunday, he surrendered three runs on seven hits in eight innings, striking out nine.
This marks the 21st straight NCAA tournament that the No. 1 seed will not win the national title. It’s the eighth time since the tournament went to its current format in 1999 that the top seed hasn’t made it to the CWS.
Arkansas (50-13) had been the consensus No. 1 team in the polls most of the season, and it hadn’t lost a best-of-three series since May 2019.
But NC State (35-18), which lost 21-2 on Friday, held down the Razorbacks’ potent offense while winning two straight one-run games in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two pitchers held the Hogs to four hits in a 6-5 win on Saturday, and three pitchers combined to limit them to four hits again on Sunday.
Torres homered in all three games for the Wolfpack, who opened 1-8 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and 4-9 overall. They made it to the ACC tournament final and were a No. 2 regional seed in Ruston, Louisiana, where they swept three games by a combined 30-11.
“They’re a really good group of players and committed to one another,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “They’ve been together and lived together four years now, and when you live together, go to class together, study together and do all the social things, you become bonded.
“They believed early on when we were 1-8 that we could rebound, and they stuck with it.”
Also locking up a CWS berth on Sunday was Tennessee (50-16), which completed a two-game sweep of LSU with a 15-6 win. The Volunteers will head to Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time since 2005.
Texas (47-15) also advanced to the CWS with a 12-4 victory over South Florida. It’s the 37th CWS berth in Longhorns history and the program’s first since 2018.
Arizona (45-16) had 20 hits to roll to a 16-3 victory over Mississippi, earning the Wildcats a trip to the CWS for the first time since 2016 and for the 18th time overall.
Vanderbilt and Stanford were the first teams to claim spots in the CWS, closing out super regional sweeps on Saturday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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