RALEIGH — N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent wasn’t aware that he had reached a career milestone immediately following the Wolfpack’s come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Virginia on Sunday. All he knew was that his team had scored a gritty victory to take two of three from the Cavaliers in a hard-fought ACC series.
“I didn’t have any earthly idea,” said Avent, who recorded his 800th career victory. “A couple of people came up to me and said congratulations. I just thought they were talking about the win. It was a big win to come back like that. A big win in a big series.”
The Wolfpack (19-7, 8-4 ACC) won their third ACC series out of four this season. Virginia (18-10-1, 6-6) had won six straight games coming into the series.
Avent, who won his 200th ACC game on Friday night, improved to 800-577 in his career. He won 225 games at New Mexico State before taking over as the Wolfpack’s head coach. In his 16th season with the Wolfpack, he is the program’s winningest coach with 575 victories.
“The first thing that pops into your mind is all the former players that still keep in touch with you,” Avent said. “You just think of all the people that came through the program and have meant so much to the program and contributed to the success. It brings a smile to your face thinking back to a lot of good people.”
No. 800 wasn’t easy to come by. The two teams combined to use 12 pitchers, with the Wolfpack sending seven players to the mound.
Down 3-0 after Virginia scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Pack got on the board on a solo home run from freshman Logan Ratledge in the bottom of the fifth. N.C. State took a 4-3 lead in the seventh and added a run in the eighth to go up 5-3.
Virginia came right back with three in the top of the ninth, highlighted by a two-run triple from Stephen Bruno.
The Pack responded with two runs of its own, getting a leadoff single from junior shortstop Chris Diaz against tough Virginia closer Justin Thompson (2-1).
“Diaz had a tremendous at-bat,” Avent said. “He fought his butt off to get that hit. I don’t know if we win it if he doesn’t get that hit.”
After a walk, a bunt and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Ratledge again came up with a big hit, blooping a single down the right-field line to tie it at 6-6.
The game-winner scored when Virginia third baseman Nick Howard, who came into the game at third for the final inning, fielded a chopper from Matt Bergquist and his high throw home pulled catcher Keith Werman off the plate, allowing pinch-runner Bryan Adamentz to score.
The Cavaliers had come back from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-2 on Saturday night, but the Wolfpack had the final rally of the weekend.
“It was almost like yesterday … we were up 2-0 and cruising [Saturday night] and when it went 2-2, I thought we got a little flat,” Avent said. “Today, we go from a 5-3 lead and they go up 6-5. I didn’t feel that same feeling today. ... I’m just really proud of the effort, the toughness they showed. It was just a really good team win.”
And a milestone for Avent, even if he didn’t find out until after the game when he was told by baseball SID Cavan Fosnes that he had notched No. 800.