North Carolina state baseball players confused and angry over College World Series withdrawal

North Carolina state baseball players who were one win away from playing for a national championship reacted with anger and confusion to their team’s withdrawal from the College World Series due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Words can’t even describe that feeling,” right fielder Devonte Brown tweeted. “An opportunity of a lifetime, something you dreamed of as a little kid just snatched you away in the blink of an eye.”

Vanderbilt qualified for the CWS Finals after the NCAA announced Saturday morning that the Wolfpack would not be allowed to continue in the tournament. The Commodores face Texas or Mississippi State in the best-of-three final starting Monday.

NC State had just 13 players available in its 3-1 loss to the Commodores on Friday. The teams were due to meet again on Saturday in a Bracket 1 final where the winner won the match. The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has declared the game non-competitive.

“This decision was made based on the recommendation of the championship medical team and the Douglas County Department of Health,” the NCAA said in a statement. “As a result, Vanderbilt will advance to the CWS Final.

“The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State student-athletes and coaching staff cannot continue in the championship in which they have been granted the right to participate. Due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide further details. ”

Douglas County Health Department spokesman Phil Rooney said the health department does not recommend the removal of the state from North Carolina, but told the NCAA the department will support any decision made by the NCAA.

Rooney said the health department provides assistance to the NCAA in testing and contact tracing, but is limited in imposing COVID-19-related procedures because there is no directed health measure local in force.

The Wolfpack overcame starts of 4-9 overall and 1-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference game to win 33 of their last 43 games. They made the 64-team NCAA tournament as the No. 2 regional seed and beat host Louisiana Tech to win the Ruston Regional. They then traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and won the best of three super-regions against the No. 1 national seed from Arkansas.

NC State made the CWS for the third time, and the first since 2013, and beat Stanford 10-4 in its first game and Vanderbilt 1-0 in its second game to reach the Bracket 1 final.

NC State players and coaches gathered at home plate to take photos around the CWS logo early Saturday, after the rain-delayed Texas-Mississippi game ended.

“It is a heartbreaking situation and I am heartbroken for everyone involved and for everyone who has been captivated by the heart and the struggle of this team,” said coach Elliott Avent. “Our medical staff and our players have been amazing this season with all they have done to protect us and prepare us to play, day in and day out.

“I love this team and over the last month many people who got to watch them fell in love with them as well. Although we are all heartbroken, this team will never be forgotten and will live in the heart of Wolfpack and baseball fans forever. ”

Avent did not respond directly when asked after Friday’s game if he was encouraging his players to get the shots. He said the players can decide for themselves. Avent also declined to say if he had been vaccinated.

Avent also said after the game he was confused about the process that led the NCAA to clear just 13 of 27 players from the roster.

Frankly, he said, I have no understanding of what happened today.

The NCAA requires unvaccinated players, coaches and staff to undergo COVID-19 testing every other day at championship venues. The Wolfpack had at least one player tested positive on Thursday, and this triggered contact tracing procedures which led to the exclusion of 13 other players from Friday’s game.

Further testing and contact tracing prompted the NCAA to decide that the Wolfpack couldn’t continue in the tournament.

Matt Willadsen, who had been the scheduled starter on Friday but didn’t pitch, tweeted that he would never forget the feeling of hearing the news.

“Our coaching team deserves better. We, the players, deserve better. Our fans deserve better. Everyone who believes in us deserves better. We all deserve better. @NCAACWS, you have ruined the greatest moment in the lives of our players so far. What joke.”

Vanderbilt returns to the final for the second time in a row. The Commodores won the 2019 CWS. There was no tournament last year because of the pandemic.

The pandemic has severely disrupted college sports over the past year and some teams have dropped out of an NCAA championship event due to COVID-19: the VCU men’s basketball team, the Michigan and Notre Dame and the Rice Women’s Volleyball Team.

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