Commentary

Tudor: N.C. State coach ready to move on after suspension

ctudor@newsobserver.comMay 17, 2012 

NCSUFRESH04-SP-050412-RTW

N.C. State freshman Jake Fincher (30) confers with head coach Elliott Avent during the Wolfpack's game against California State University Bakersfield on Friday May 4, 2012 at Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

In the wake of a three-game suspension, N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent won’t be in Florida State’s stadium Thursday and Friday for the opening two games of a series between two of the top teams in the nation.

But Avent made the trip to Tallahassee with his players, will be in Dick Howser Stadium for Saturday’s final regular-season game and is as anxious as ever to see how his team responds to facing Baseball America’s No. 1 ranked team.

“They’re just a great team,” Avent said. “I don’t know that they have the most experienced group in the country but if not, they’re close.

“They’ve been together for a long time, and they have as much talent as anyone. That’s a great combination to have in baseball at any level.”

The Wolfpack, ranked 13th nationally, is far younger and anchored by freshman pitcher Carlos Rodon. But before Sunday’s 6-4 loss at Virginia Tech, State (38-13, 18-9 ACC) was the nation’s hottest team with a 12-game win streak.

That loss at Virginia Tech doubled as a big loss for Avent, the winningest coach in State history.

Avent was ejected by home plate umpire David Pritchett after disputing a call in the sixth inning. The league ruled that during the course of the argument, Avent bumped the ump and would have to sit out three games starting with Tuesday’s 7-0 win over UNC Greensboro in Raleigh.

Although obviously disappointed in the league ruling, Avent said his absence shouldn’t be a distraction for his team against the Seminoles (41-11, 22-5).

“Oh, I’m obviously not happy about what happened, but we have to move on. I have to move on,” Avent said Wednesday.

“There was no appeal process on the ruling, but that’s that. There’s a lot of baseball in front of our team. That’s where our focus will be this weekend and after this weekend.”

FSU coach Mike Martin’s team clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title with a win Monday over Clemson and will be a solid favorite in next week’s conference championship tournament in Greensboro.

But entering Thursday’s 6 p.m. game, State has a two-game series winning streak against the Seminoles, including a 7-0 win in the 2011 ACC Tournament in Durham.

If the Pack can extend the streak to three – or four – it’ll have to be done without the Skipper at the yard.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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