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NCAA baseball pairings: Where and who UNC, N.C. State, Duke, Wake, ECU play this weekend

North Carolina received the No. 4 national seed with N.C. State at No. 10 for the NCAA baseball tournament that begins Friday.

The Tar Heels (42-13) and Wolfpack, among seven teams in the field from N.C., will both begin their paths toward the College World Series at home with four-team, double-elimination regionals.

ACC champion Duke will head to the Norman Regional where No. 9 national seed Oklahoma is the host school. The Blue Devils (39-18) will play Connecticut (32-23) at 7 p.m. on Friday. Oklahoma (37-19) will face Oral Roberts (27-30) at 1 p.m.

The Blue Devils knew they wouldn’t be hosting after the top 16 national seeds were revealed Sunday night with Duke not among them.

“I took some time to be disappointed about it last night, if I’m being honest with you,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said Monday. I just felt bad for our guys. I felt like they had earned it (with) 20 ACC wins, 13 quad one wins. I thought we had a really good resume and I’m not sure that anybody with our resume has ever been kept out of hosting. But like we talked about in here this morning, we have to be good at controlling what we can control and we’re elated and proud and humbled to be a part of the field of 64.”

East Carolina (43-15) received the No. 16 national seed and will host a Greenville Regional that includes Wake Forest, Virginia Commonwealth and Evansville. The Pirates play Evansville at 1 p.m. Friday. A College World Series finalist last season, Wake will play VCU at 6 p.m. in its first game in this year’s tournament.

Big South champion High Point (34-25), making its first NCAA baseball tournament appearance, heads to Clemson to play the Tigers on Friday. Coastal Athletic Association champion UNC-Wilmington (39-19) heads to the Athens Regional and opens play against Georgia Tech (31-23).

The Chapel Hill Regional will also feature Long Island (33-23), Wofford (41-18) and LSU (40-21). The Tar Heels will play Long Island at 6 p.m. on Friday after Wofford and LSU open the regional at noon.

UNC won the ACC regular-season title but Wake Forest knocked out of the ACC tournament last Friday, outlasting the Tar Heels, 9-5, in 12 innings at Charlotte.

But the Tar Heels have been outstanding at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, where they’re 32-2 this season.

Vance Honeycutt has 22 home runs this season for UNC as he became the program’s all-time home run king. Parks Harber has 20 home runs.

N.C. State’s Ryan Matthews hoists up head coach Elliott Avent following the Pack’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt during the NCAA Baseball Raleigh Regional championship Monday, June 4, 2012.
N.C. State’s Ryan Matthews hoists up head coach Elliott Avent following the Pack’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt during the NCAA Baseball Raleigh Regional championship Monday, June 4, 2012.

The Wolfpack (33-20) will open Raleigh Regional play against Bryant on Friday at 7 p.m. James Madison (34-23) and South Carolina (36-23) match up at 2 p.m. in the first round of the double-elimination event.

The winner of the Raleigh Regional will advance to the Athens Super Regional should the No. 7-seeded Georgia Bulldogs with their regional.

“I thinking hosting is big,” NCSU coach Elliott Avent said Monday. “I think it says a lot to be a 10th seed. That shows you how close you were to being a national (top 8) seed. I think this is the second highest seed we’ve had since I’ve been here.

“It says a lot, but when you watch the board and see the teams, you realize how dangerous every team is in this tournament.”

The Pack has not won an ACC title since 1992 but went to Truist Field in Charlotte for the ACC tournament believing it was playing the best baseball in the league. N.C. State closed the regular season with ACC series wins over Virginia and Wake Forest and was 10-4 in its past five ACC series.

“It’s been as incredible a stretch of good baseball as any team I’ve had the pleasure of coaching,” Avent said after an 8-1 loss to Duke in pool play in Charlotte. ”They’ve been playing really, really well.”

The Pack ignited for 19 runs and 20 hits in its first game at Charlotte, ripping Virginia Tech 19-9, but was muzzled by Duke starter Andrew Healy and the Blue Devils.

Despite the disappointing defeat — the Wolfpack lost to Duke 1-0 in the 2021 ACC title game in Charlotte — N.C. State has more baseball to play. In ‘21, the Pack reached the College World Series, beating top-seeded Arkansas in the Super Regional, only to have a bitterly disappointing end to that season. But that’s another story.

The Pack will go into the NCAAs with starting pitchers Sam Highfill, Dom Fritton and Logan Whitaker ready to go and an effective bullpen led by closer Derrick Smith. The Wolfpack has just three .300 hitters - one of the three, outfielder Josh Hogue, is out for the season – but has capable hitting throughout the lineup.

Catcher Jacob Cozart and third baseman Alec Makarewicz have been the offensive leaders. Cozart was a first-team All-ACC choice and Makarewicz, a graduate transfer from East Carolina, has hit a team-best .373 and leads the Pack in homers (19) and RBIs (71).

Freshman Alex Sosa has added another dangerous bat to the lineup. After batting mononucleosis and the flu, Sosa had an 0-for-37 streak, but the designated hitter has bounced back strongly, going 10-for-26 in his last eight games with four homers and 15 RBIs.

“We’ve got some bumps and bruises, as all teams do,” Avent said after the loss to Duke. “We’ll go home and take a couple of days off and get focused for the regional.”