There was nothing clever about the approach Hobbs Johnson used Thursday night to keep North Carolina kicking in the College World Series.
The junior left-hander's first pitch against North Carolina State was a fastball. His next 131 were, too, as he relied on his gas to end the Wolfpack's season with a 7-0 victory in the Bracket Two elimination game.
“Every single pitch he threw was a fastball,” North Carolina catcher Brian Holberton said. “We just went right after them. We wanted them to put the ball in play and let our defense work.”
Johnson, the Tar Heels' No. 2 starter, came within two outs of his first career complete game as he improved to 5-1. He held the Wolfpack to three hits over the first eight innings, then left with one out in the ninth after giving up a pair of singles. Chris McCue came on and needed just three pitches to end the contest with a line-drive double play.
The victory, before 25,742 fans at TD Ameritrade Park, advanced the 59-11 Tar Heels into Friday's 7 p.m. Bracket Two championship game against UCLA. A victory by the Bruins would put them into next week's best-of-three championship series, while a North Carolina win would force another game between the teams on Saturday.
North Carolina State's first trip to Omaha since 1968 ended with back-to-back losses that left the Wolfpack 50-15.
“Hobbs Johnson has been a problem for us the last few times we've faced him,” North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent said. “I think he gets better and better. We try to lay off fastballs, especially in this ballpark, but he makes it difficult.