Photo: Courtesy Go Heels

OMAHA, NEB. – N.C. State’s Carlos Rodon threw a complete game to lead the Wolfpack past the Tar Heels, 8-1, Sunday in Carolina’s College World Series opener in Omaha, Nebraska. With the loss, UNC goes to the elimination game Tuesday, awaiting the loser of LSU-UCLA.

Rodon, considered by many to be the likely first pick in next year’s MLB draft, scattered five hits, struck out eight, and held the No. 1 national seed hitless into the fifth inning.

“You can see his dominance today and tell just how good that kid is. He completely dominated us. I’m proud of our team for how we played there at the end, but it was too little, too late. But, he is really good, and was too good for us today,” said UNC Head Coach Mike Fox.

Chaz Frank scored off a double by Landon Lassiter in the ninth, but Rodon ended the threat by forcing two infield ground-outs to end the game.

Hear the call of Lassiter’s RBI double:

Kent Emanuel started for UNC (57-11), and continued his post-season problems, allowing a lead-off walk to Trea Turner in the first inning. Turner eventually scored on a Tarran Senay single, the Wolfpack (50-14) up 1-0.

After retiring the Wolfpack in the second inning, Emanuel’s troubles continued in the third, giving up five runs.

UNC made the pitching change with two outs, and brought-in Chris McCue. Emanuel threw for 2 2 /3 innings, including 64 pitches and two strikeouts.

“I’m just not making the pitches I need to. It’s as simple as that,” Emanuel said. “In the big spots, like against Senay in the first inning, I wanted to go away and I did. I just needed a couple more inches to get the swing and miss, rather than him being able to get the cap on it. It just seems to be stuff like that and not being able to execute in the big spots.”

Carolina finished the game using eight pitchers, tying the CWS record for most pitchers used in a contest. The UNC bullpen was fairly effective, and only allowed two more runs in the ninth inning.

The bright spots for the Heels included Brian Holberton, who had two hits, and McCue, who pitched 2 1/3 innings, struck out three, and stopped the N.C. State scoring run in the third inning. It was the right-hander’s seventh scoreless relief appearance in his last eight outings.

UNC head coach Mike Fox, though going deep into the bullpen, saved reliever Trent Thornton for possible use in Tuesday’s elimination game, set for 3 p.m.

97.9 FM WCHL and will be broadcasting and live-streaming all of the action.