RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fans, family and friends gathered at Doak Field Saturday night to welcome home a frustrated Wolfpack baseball after being forced to drop out of the College World Series due to the NCAA's COVID-19 protocols.
Just before 9:30 p.m., the team was welcomed back with open arms from fans at the baseball field from Nebraska. Players had the chance to walk around the field and thank fans from a distance.
Despite the warm welcome back, the NC State baseball community will always look back on the 2021 College World Series and wonder what could have happened if they hadn't been forced to forfeit against Vanderbilt. Many fans are left scratching their heads from the lack of transparency from the NCAA.
"Frustration and disbelief and anger and probably more than anything else confusion," said former NC State pitcher Kyle Rutter. "It seems like there's been a lack of transparency of how things have unfolded. I think we're just looking for some answers."
Rutter was in shock when he saw the news from the NCAA at 2:10 a.m. declaring NC State's game against Vanderbilt a no-contest.
"This is why you go to college," Rutter said. "This is the dream. To have that taken away. To be three wins away from a National Championship and not be able to go out there and still compete it's just really disappointing."
Division One baseball reporter Kendall Rodgers shared a photo on Twitter from early Saturday morning of the NC State baseball team on the field for one last picture in Omaha.
Clayton Shunick, another former NC State pitcher, was also disappointed in the amount of transparency in the forfeit, "To just be hit with this blow is just unbelievable. To lose the game off the field instead of on is unbelievably heartbreaking for the guys. I just couldn't think about how spineless and how coward of a statement to make at 2:10 in the morning and then 17 minutes later say congratulations to Vandy for making it to the College World Series Championship. It doesn't pass the smell test for me."
Players shared their own frustration on social media -- Reid Johnston posted a tweet saying in part, "Some things you just don't understand. To say that we are heartbroken is an understatement."
Elliott Avent expressed a similar feeling, "I'm gutted for everyone involved and for all those that we're captivated by the heart and fight of this team."
NC State released a statement from Atheltic Director Boo Corrigan saying in part the heath and safety of our student-athletes and staff will always be our unwavering priority.
"I really hope, I know it's not going to change the situation but I think Wolfpack nation would like to hear what's happened and how it unfolded," said Rutter. "Hear from some of the leaders in the NCAA and at the College World Series of what that looked like. I think we want to see and know that our administrators fought as hard for this team as this team has fought on the diamond all year to put themselves in this position."