NC State is just three wins away from capturing its first College World Series title, but the Wolfpack suddenly have an alarming situation on their hands.
The school announced Friday that several players from the team have been placed into COVID-19 protocol, with ESPN reporting that one player has tested positive. NC State has just 13 players — four pitchers and nine position players — active for today’s game against Vanderbilt, which was delayed from 2:00 p.m. EST to 3:07.
“An undisclosed number of players from the team have been put into COVID-19 protocol and will be unavailable for today’s game,” NC State said in a statement. “NC State, the NCAA and appropriate parties are working together to monitor the situation.”
Prior to Friday’s first pitch, NC State’s healthy and eligible players held a team meeting to discuss whether they would forfeit the game or play, with the team “overwhelmingly” choosing the latter.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Wolfpack are starting pitcher Sam Highfill, who has yet to have an at-bat this season, at first base.
Though it’s unclear which player tested positive, starting second baseman JT Jarrett, who hit .251 on the season, is no longer with the team in Omaha, per ESPN.
This marks the first COVID-19 related issue at the College World Series, which officially began on Saturday.
NC State has emerged as one of the biggest stories of the tournament, eliminating top-seeded Arkansas in the Super Regionals to secure a berth in Omaha. The Wolfpack then topped Stanford on Saturday and edged Vanderbilt on Monday. A win today against Vanderbilt would send NC State to the College World Series final.