The 2021 College World Series entered Friday with four teams still vying for a national championship.
The day's schedule got off to a delayed start because of COVID-19 issues with North Carolina State.
Per ESPN's Ryan McGee, Wolfpack second baseman J.T. Jarrett and reliever Evan Justice were ruled out for the game against Vanderbilt because of safety protocols.
ESPN's Kris Budden reported (h/t Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic) that NC State only had 13 players active, including nine position players and four pitchers, on Friday afternoon.
The Wolfpack lost Friday's contest, and the rematch was declared a no-contest because of the COVID-19 protocols, sending Vanderbilt to the championship series.
Texas won the nightcap to force another meeting with Mississippi State on Saturday with the winner moving on to face the Commodores.
2021 College World Series Semifinal Results
Vanderbilt def. North Carolina State, 3-1
Texas def. Mississippi State, 8-5
Vanderbilt 3, North Carolina State 1
If this ends up being the final start of his college career, Kumar Rocker went out on a high note. The right-hander allowed one run and struck out 11 over six innings to lead Vanderbilt to a 3-1 victory over North Carolina State.
Vanderbilt Baseball @VandyBoys
Rocker struck out 11 in his outing today.<br><br>Watch them all. ⬇️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VandyBoys?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#VandyBoys</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CWS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CWS</a> <a href="https://t.co/csufQvJkyB">pic.twitter.com/csufQvJkyB</a>
SEC Network @SECNetwork
The <a href="https://twitter.com/VandyBoys?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VandyBoys</a> aces 🔥<a href="https://twitter.com/KumarRocker?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KumarRocker</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jackleiter22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jackleiter22</a> are the first teammates to lead the country in strikeouts in at least the last 30 years. <a href="https://t.co/hlFcLI4Ct0">pic.twitter.com/hlFcLI4Ct0</a>
With Rocker taking care of business on the mound, the Commodores offense didn't need to do much to get a win. They were held scoreless through three innings before pushing two unearned runs across in the top of the fourth.
Dominic Keegan led off the fourth by reaching base thanks to an error by NC State shortstop Vojtech Mensik. Three batters later, C.J. Rodriguez drove him in with an RBI single. Rodriguez came around to score on a wild pitch by Garrett Payne.
Despite playing with a depleted roster, the Wolfpack put forth a valiant effort in the loss. Payne and Dalton Feeney combined to allow six hits and one earned run.
Carson Falsken scored NC State's lone run of the game on a sacrifice fly by DeAngelo Giles in the bottom of the fifth.
The Wolfpack did threaten late in the game by putting two runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings. Vanderbilt closer Luke Murphy escaped both frames without allowing any damage.
Texas 8, Mississippi State 5
The Longhorns carried a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning but the Bulldogs, who won a previous meeting 2-1 earlier in the tournament, fought back with three runs to tie the contest, highlighted by a two-run single by Brad Cumbest.
Texas, with its season hanging in the balance, responded in the ninth as Ivan Melendez launched a three-run homer just minutes before a rain delay that lasted more than two hours.
Mississippi State was able to bring the tying run to the plate after play resumed thanks to an error and a walk, but Longhorns closer Aaron Nixon was able to induce weak contact from Logan Tanner and Scotty Dubrule to end the Bulldogs' comeback bid.
Since both teams now have one loss in the CWS, Saturday's rematch will be a win-or-go-home matchup for both sides. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The winner advances to face Vanderbilt in a three-game series with the national championship on the line beginning Monday night.