Updated at: 06/20/2013 11:35 PM
By ERIC OLSON
(AP) OMAHA, Neb. - Carlos Rodon dominated North Carolina the first time the Wolfpack met the Tar Heels at the College World Series. Needing another big performance from their ace to stave off elimination, Rodon couldn’t deliver.
Working on three days rest, Rodon left Thursday night’s game after the fifth inning down two runs, and the Wolfpack’s first appearance in Omaha since 1968 ended with a 7-0 loss.
"He told me yesterday he was ready to go today if I needed him," NC State coach Elliott Avent said. "I was making sure he was thinking with his head instead of his heart. That’s the thing most people don’t realize about Carlos Rodon. He’s Bob Gibson as a pitcher and Pete Rose as a position player.
"The acclaim and all the stuff that goes on about him, and how highly respected he is in the draft world, has hit him, but it doesn’t change the way he wants to play the game. He could have gone the pro route two years ago. He wants to win a national championship."
The sophomore left-hander will have to wait until next year to try again.
Carolina starter Hobbs Johnson limited the Wolfpack to five singles in a career-long 8 1-3 innings. Chris McCue finished.
Rodon (10-2), projected as the possible No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, threw 108 pitches in an 8-1 win over Carolina on Sunday. He gave up two runs on four hits in his five innings on Thursday.
Avent originally planned to go with Brad Stone. Rodon was scheduled to throw an extended bullpen session Thursday, but Avent and pitching coach Tom Holliday scrapped it and decided to go with Rodon and give him a 75-pitch count that stretched to 80.
Rodon, who held the Tar Heels hitless into the fifth inning on Sunday, had his fastball humming in the mid-90s but wasn’t as dominating.
"I definitely wanted to pitch," Rodon said. "I felt good. I felt good yesterday and the day before. I had some velocity. It came and went, I guess. The slider was pretty good and effective."
Carolina must beat UCLA twice _ first on Friday and again Saturday _ to reach the finals. North Carolina State (50-16), in the CWS for the first time since 1968, was shut out for the first time this season.
Johnson (5-1), a 14th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, bounced back from a dismal start in the super regionals against South Carolina. He lasted just 1 2-3 innings and gave up five runs in an 8-0 loss that day.
But he had turned in a strong start the last time he faced the Wolfpack, and he did again with a fastball that reached the low 90s.
The Tar Heels had runners in scoring position in the first and third innings but didn’t break through until Michael Russell’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fourth. NC State right fielder Jake Fincher made a perfect throw home, but the headfirst-sliding Brian Holberton touched the plate with his right hand just ahead of catcher Brett Austin’s tag.
Austin bounced his mask off the ground and Rodon, backing up on the play, threw his glove in the dirt as Avent bolted out of the dugout to confront umpire Joe Burleson. TV replays appeared to support Burleson’s call.
Burleson, wearing a television microphone, told Avent that Holberton beat the tag.
"You really believe that, Joe?" Avent asked.
"I do," Burleson said before warning Avent he would eject him if he didn’t quit following him.
After the game, Avent said he didn’t get an adequate explanation.
"He was kind of hard to talk to," Avent said. "I certainly didn’t want to get thrown out on this stage, at this great event. Maybe the guy’s hand got in. The ball just beat him so much that maybe we didn’t block the plate well enough."
Rodon caused some of his own problems in the fourth. Colin Moran singled leading off and was safe at second when Rodon bounced a throw into center field as he tried to get Moran on Holberton’s bunt. He walked Cody Stubbs to load the bases with none out.
Moran was forced out at home on Skye Bolt’s grounder to third, and then Russell delivered his sacrifice fly.
Rodon hit Parks Jordan leading off the fifth, and Moran’s two-out single to center brought him home.
The Tar Heels broke open the game in the four-run eighth, with Michael Russell singling in two runs and Mike Zolk doubling in two more.
"We laid a foundation for future classes," NC State’s Trea Turner said. "Hopefully we can get some good classes next year and years following that and make some trips back here and win it for the ACC and for North Carolina State."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)