RALEIGH — N.C. State looked the part of a top seed in an NCAA baseball regional Friday.
And Sacred Heart looked like a team that was 25-30.
The Wolfpack rolled to a 16-5 victory in its first game of the Raleigh Regional at Doak Field, swinging the bats, being aggressive on the bases and getting effective starting pitching from senior righthander Vance Williams.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys played," NCSU coach Elliott Avent said. "No errors tonight. Played sound defense. I thought Vance had very good stuff ... and made pitches when he had to.
"It's a good opening game to start. This team, they have fun. They don't panic. They think they're really good."
The Pack (40-17) will face second-seeded Vanderbilt today at 7 p.m. in the winner's bracket game and will send All-America lefthander Carlos Rodon to the mound against the Commodores.
Sacred Heart will play UNC-Wilmington in a 2 p.m. elimination game. The Seahawks, seeded third, were beaten 8-2 by Vandy in their NCAA opener.
Designated hitter Ryan Mathews, who had three of the Pack's 14 hits, ripped a three-run homer in the first and finished with four RBIs. Freshman Brett Austin drove in three runs, just missing on a pair of homers.
The 16 runs were the most scored by the Pack in an NCAA game since a 16-3 win over The Citadel in 1975.
There was early uneasiness among Pack fans in the top of the first as Williams labored and the Pioneers scored twice.
Williams, making his third start of the season, walked leadoff batter Keaton Flint and then hit Dave Boisture with a pitch. Third baseman Hunter Phillips delivered a two-out, two-run double to right and Sacred Heart had jumped ahead.
But the Pack, whose bats were silent most of the ACC Baseball Championship, quickly answered against Sacred Heart starter Troy Scribner.
Leadoff batter Trea Turner doubled to left, Chris Diaz singled and Mathews delivered the big bomb to left for his 15th homer of the season and a 3-2 lead. It was Mathews' seventh homer in the past 11 games.
"It was good for us to be able respond and answer back," Mathews said. "It was big for us, especially early on in the game to not let them get any momentum at all."
The Pack added another run in the first for a 4-2 cushion, and the tension eased for Williams -- and the pro-Wolfpack crowd.
The Wolfpack used two bunt singles and four stolen bases to score twice in the third, put another three runs on the board in the fourth and then scored seven in the sixth.
With a runner on in the fourth, Mathews popped up behind the plate. But Pioneers catcher Derick Horn couldn't make the catch and Mathews promptly rifled an RBI-single.
So it went -- for the Pack and the Pioneers, the Northeast Conference champions and one of only two teams in the NCAA field with a losing record.
Williams settled down after the rocky start. He once retired nine straight batters and matched his career high with eight strikeouts in six innings before being relieved by freshman righty Dillon Frye.
NCSU coach Elliott Avent talked earlier in the week of starting junior righthander Ethan Ogburn, but the decision to go with Williams was a calculated gamble the Pack won. Avent now will turn to Rodon, named the ACC's freshman and pitcher of the year.
Williams (4-3), who played at Raleigh's Athens Drive High, made starts against Elon and Campbell early in the season. But his start Friday was the biggest of his career.