There will be no game between Vanderbilt and NC State on Saturday at the College World Series.
The NCAA said just after 2 a.m. ET Saturday morning that the game would be declared a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols and Vanderbilt would advance to the championship series.
Vanderbilt's 3-1 win over NC State was delayed by an hour on Friday after multiple NC State players were placed into COVID-19 protocols. NC State took the field with 13 players and had just four pitchers available.
NC State was set to be shorthanded at best again on Saturday, but the NCAA stepped in to say the game wasn't happening.
"This decision was made based on the recommendation of the championship medical team and the Douglas County (NE) Health Department. As a result, Vanderbilt will advance to the CWS Finals.
"The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State's student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate. Because of privacy issues, we cannot provide further details."
This is not the first time that a team has been eliminated from an NCAA championship because of COVID-19. VCU was unable to play its men's basketball tournament game against Oregon and Notre Dame couldn't play against Boston College in the men's hockey tournament due to COVID-19.
NC State was 2-0 before Friday
NC State entered Friday's game needing to beat Vanderbilt once to advance to the championship series since it had beaten Vanderbilt already. It's now out of the College World Series altogether.
Vanderbilt will play the winner of Saturday night's game between Mississippi State and Texas in the three-game title series. That series begins on Monday.
How many NC State players were vaccinated?
ESPN's broadcast of Friday's game noted multiple times that NC State was optimistic it could have more players available for a game on Saturday, though it was unclear how that would have been feasible under COVID-19 protocols. The NCAA has been doing daily testing of unvaccinated players at the College World Series and NC State had most recently played on Monday.
NC State coach Elliott Avent was asked after the game if he had required or encouraged his players to get vaccinated. He refused to say if he had.
"I didn't say I couldn't talk about it. I said I wouldn't talk about it. But, yeah, we talk about a lot of things, you know what I'm saying? But I've been coaching for a long time. And I think I'm the — you can call it caretaker, baby-sitter or the guy that the parents drop their young men off and leave them in my care. And they've raised them to be the quality people that we recruit," Avent said.
"And my job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward. But I don't try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my things that, my opinions. Obviously, we talk about a lot of things. But these are young men that can make their own decisions and that's what they did."
You may agree with what Avent said on Friday. And even if you do, it's hard not to wonder if NC State would be playing on Saturday if the entire team had been vaccinated.
According to D1baseball.com, the original two positive COVID-19 tests came from players who were not vaccinated. That led to tests of the whole roster — including vaccinated players — and four players who had been vaccinated tested positive. The reported six positive tests among the team then led the tournament to be canceled.
Had the entire team been vaccinated, every player could have been exempt from daily testing per NCAA rules.
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