OMAHA, NEBRASKA - JUNE 25: A detailed view of baseballs prior to Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals between the Florida Gators and the LSU Tigers at Charles Schwab Field on June 25, 2023 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The feelings of the morning of June 26, 2021, are still etched in my memory. That morning I woke up excited (and a little nervous) only to soon learn about the events that happened a few hours later. That an opportunity and a dream had been pulled for egregious reasons. But now NC State Baseball is returning to Omaha with a chance for redemption and to try to right some wrongs.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about well here you go. In June 2021 NC State Baseball made the College World Series in Omaha Nebraska for just the third time in program history. They were on a roll and looked poised to win it all. Something that has never been done.

Then prior to a game against juggernaut Vanderbilt (who the Pack has already beat once), a player tested positive for COVID-19. This led to the testing of more players, including vaccinated ones (who per rules at the time should not have ever been tested). The game was delayed, NC State had the opportunity to forfeit but elected to play. With 13 total players, including a pitcher (who pitched the previous game) on first base and batting in the lineup. The grit and tenacity that the team played with will stick with me forever. I’ve never been more proud.

They ultimately lost a close game but had the opportunity to play again the next day, hopefully with some players returning to the lineup. Or so we thought. At a little after 2:10 am the NCAA declared the team ineligible. Vanderbilt would move on to the finals.

It was gut-wrenching for the team and the fans. The “rules” weren’t followed and if the logic that kept NC State out was to be applied it should have applied to Vandy too. I could rant about this for hours so I’ll spare you any more.

Long story short, we will never know who the best team in college baseball was that year. But this year, NC State baseball gets to try again. The team secured a win in the Super Regionals last night beating Georgia in Athens. This puts them in the field of 8 heading to Omaha.

NC State Baseball Returns To Omaha

There is still a long way to go, and numerous wins that would have to take place. I’m thankful to be here and to simply have a chance. But I can’t help but think that maybe there is some sort of poetic justice owed to the Pack. Karma you know? It scares me to think about in all honesty.

There are still 7 members of that 2021 NC State baseball team on the team: Noah Soles, Logan Whitaker, Sam Highfill, Matt Milladsen, John Mirala, Carson Falsken, and Garrett Payne. This return trip to Omaha offers the chance at redemption. Redemption for them, for the players who have moved on, for the fans, and for that coaching staff.

There are few things in life I want more than the chance to see my team win a national championship in football, men’s or women’s basketball, or baseball. That 2021 team gave me the first moment of my lifetime where that even seemed like a possibility. If anything could make me want it more, it is for this team.

It would never take away the feelings of anger, disappointment, and the what-ifs of June 26, 2021. (You can’t convince me we wouldn’t have won it all). But it would help more than anything else could. It would heal those wounds.

I don’t know what is to come in the next 2 weeks in Nebraska. But I know I’ll be watching. If you know me it’s always Go Pack. But somehow I want this even more than I normally do. I’m used to getting let down, but also full of hope that maybe, just maybe this is NC State baseball’s chance to right the wrongs of the NCAA.

Throughout the postseason, the announcers have talked about 2021 and what could have been. Let’s give them a story to tell of what did happen, and write the ending we deserve. Go Pack. Always.

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