Kentucky outlasts NC State at Men's College World Series

Mitchell Daly walks it off with a HR for Kentucky in 10th inning (0:55)

Mitchell Daly clobbers a walk-off home run for Kentucky in the 10th inning vs. NC State. (0:55)

Mitchell Daly homered in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Kentucky a 5-4 win over NC State on Saturday, the third straight Men's College World Series game to end in walk-off fashion.

The Wildcats had tied it in the bottom of the ninth on Ryan Nicholson's homer, and Daly ended it with two outs when he launched a shot into the left-field bullpen.

Kentucky (46-14), in its first MCWS, set a program record for wins in a season and will play Monday night against Texas A&M, which defeated Florida 3-2 on Saturday night. NC State will play the Gators in an elimination game Monday afternoon.

"What a response. What a response. I mean, when I tell you guys in the ninth, this team had true belief," Wildcats coach Nick Mingione said. "They really thought we were going to win the game."

The Wolfpack (38-22) went to the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead in its first game in Omaha since a COVID-19 outbreak on the team led the NCAA to remove them from the 2021 MCWS after their third game.

But Nicholson sliced Jacob Dudan's 96 mph fastball just inside the left-field foul pole, and barely over the fence, for his 22nd home run to tie it at 4.

"It feels good to be the ground floor of what we're trying to produce for this program," Nicholson said. "This game is a really good starting point and a big confidence builder going forward. We didn't come here to be happy we're here. We came here to win games."

The Wildcats got a runner to third after that but couldn't push him across. After Johnny Hummel (4-0) pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 10th, the stage was set for Daly.

"Kentucky, [Big Blue Nation], the energy around this place is special," Daly said. "To give the fans an ending like that is pretty awesome."

The Texas transfer was down 1-2 against closer Derrick Smith (3-2) when he turned on a pitch and lofted it high down the line and over the fence, the ball staying fair despite a wind gusting to 25 mph pushing it left.

North Carolina and Tennessee won their MCWS openers Friday on bottom-of-the-ninth singles, making this the first time in the 74-year history of the event that three straight games had ended in walk-off fashion. It also was the second time the first three games in the MCWS were decided by one run; last year was the first time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.