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From AP Photo

Covid Hurt Both NC State and Vanderbilt

In case you missed it, the Vanderbilt Commodores advanced to the College World Series because their opponents, the NC State Wolfpack, were forced to forfeit due to Covid protocols, which wiped out a huge chunk of their roster. What would have been an epic winner-take-all game this past Saturday became a bittersweet celebration for Vandy and a nightmare of a ride home for NC State.

Covid-19 has robbed us of countless sports moments since last year. You can add this to that ever-growing list.

What Could Have Been for NC State

A chance to knock off the champs. The College World Series was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, but Vandy won in 2019. They have established themselves over the past few years as the premier college baseball program in the country, against which all other programs must be judged. NC State was set to go toe-to-toe with them, everything on the line. David vs. Goliath. A chance at history.

But protocols are protocols. It’s not worth the risk in the name of entertainment. NC State simply didn’t belong on the field this past Saturday.

What Could Have Been for Vanderbilt

A chance to further assert their college baseball dominance. Winning a National Championship is hard enough as it is. Winning back-to-back? That’s another level of excellence, especially in baseball, where anyone can beat anyone on the right day. Vanderbilt had a chance to slam the door on NC State’s Cinderella run, thus heading into the Finals against Mississippi State riding a well-deserved high.

Instead, they come in probably feeling like they didn’t earn it (because they didn’t). Even if they beat Mississippi State to secure their second straight title, that semifinal game against NC State will always hang over their heads. That’s a damn shame.

There are no winners here, even though Vandy technically came out on top. In this situation, as we often see with Covid-related things, there are only losers. There are varying degrees, but no one wins when Covid is involved, especially when it comes to sports.