Avent 'shocked' NC State denied NCAA baseball seed

calexander@newsobserver.comMay 27, 2013 

  • Friday’s games

    Raleigh regional

    • No. 2 Mississippi vs. No. 3 William & Mary, 2 p.m.

    • No. 1 N.C. State vs. No. 4 Binghamton, 7 p.m.

  • Raleigh Regional Friday’s games

    Game 1: No. 2 Mississippi vs. No. 3 William & Mary, 2 p.m.

    Game 2: No. 1 N.C. State vs. No. 4 Binghamton, 7 p.m.

    Saturday’s games

    Game 3: Mississippi-William and Mary Loser vs. N.C. State-Binghamton Loser , 2 p.m.

    Game 4: Mississippi-William and Mary Winner vs. N.C. State-Binghamton Winner, 7 p.m.

    Sunday’s games

    Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 1 p.m.

    Game 6: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4, 6 p.m.

    June 3 (if necessary)

    x-Game 7: Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 6, 7 p.m.

    Teams Binghamton

    No. 4 seed

    Location: Binghamton, N.Y.

    Record: 30-23

    Coach: Tim Sinicki

    Ace pitcher: Senior right-hander Jake Lambert (7-2).

    Best hitter: Sophomore outfielder Jake Thomas is batting .382 and is second in NCAA in on-base percentage (.528).

    NCAA resume: Beat top-seeded Maine 4-0 in title game of America East Championship.

    Fact: Lambert, who won twice in the conference tournament, is 6 feet 9 inches tall.

    Mississippi

    No. 2 seed

    Location: Oxford, Miss.

    Record: 37-22

    Coach: Mike Bianco

    Ace pitcher: Junior right-hander Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.99 ERA)

    Best hitter: Junior catcher Stuart Turner is hitting .381 with 50 RBIs.

    NCAA resume: The Rebels were fourth in the SEC West with a 15-15 record.

    Fact: Wahl has started four games against nationally ranked teams this year and has a 0.66 ERA.

    William & Mary

    No. 3 seed

    Location: Williamsburg, Va.

    Record: 37-22

    Coach: Jamie Pinzino

    Ace pitcher: Senior right-hander John Farrell (11-2, 2.80 ERA)

    Best hitter: First baseman Michael Katz is hitting .365 with 47 RBIs

    NCAA resume: Finished second in Colonial Athletic Conference and lost to Towson in title game of CAA tournament.

    Fact: The Tribe edged James Madison 20-19 in the CAA tournament, then lost to Towson 20-13.

— The N.C. State baseball team gathered Monday in its Doak Field locker room to watch the NCAA selection show on ESPNU.

Minutes into the show, Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent abruptly left the room.

The top eight national seeds for the NCAA Championship were announced first and the Wolfpack was not one of the eight. North Carolina was the No. 1 overall seed, Virginia was No. 6 and Florida State No. 7, giving the ACC three of the national seeds.

To say Avent was disappointed and irked that the Wolfpack was left out is an understatement. Spotting a reporter Monday, he said, “What do you want me to do first, rant or rave?”

Asked his reaction to the seedings, Avent said, “Shocked. Totally, absolutely shocked.”

The Wolfpack, ranked seventh by Baseball America, is 44-14. It won 19 ACC regular-season games. While Florida State was floundering last week, losing to UNC in Chapel Hill and then three games in the ACC Championship in Durham, the Wolfpack beat Clemson and Miami in tournament play and then pushed North Carolina for 18 innings before losing 2-1.

Several college baseball analysts expected the Wolfpack to be a national seed for the first time in program history. But the NCAA baseball selection committee saw otherwise, making Oregon the No. 8 seed.

“You put in months putting the schedule together and the thought process is RPI, strength of schedule, who you can play, academics – all factor into scheduling,” Avent said. “So you do everything the right way and you play a tough schedule and then you have to go out and perform. In our case we had injuries early on and (the committee) factors that in, and winning 27 of the last 31 and you played the No. 1 team an 18-inning ballgame.

“I don’t know what else this team could do. All I can say is (I am) shocked. It’s a decision made by people we have no control over and you deal with those decisions.”

Avent said he was out of the room before the regional fields were announced. The Wolfpack, hosting a NCAA regional for the second straight year, faces Binghamton (30-23) on Friday in its opener while second-seeded Mississippi (37-22) will play No. 3 seed William & Mary (37-22).

“We know who we’re playing, we know we’re not a national seed, so we know what we have to do,” Avent said.

The winner of the Raleigh Regional advances to face the winner of the Eugene Regional in a best-of-three Super Regional. Oregon is hosting that regional in Eugene, Ore.

N.C. State has placed a bid for an NCAA Super Regional. Should the Pack win its regional and Oregon falter in its regional, it’s likely N.C. State would host the Super Regional.

A year ago, the Wolfpack absorbed a 12-inning loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament but bounced back to win the NCAA regional, twice beating Vanderbilt. Last Saturday, the Tar Heels once again denied the Wolfpack a shot at an ACC title.

Avent said he doesn’t expect any lingering effect among the players, saying, “These guys can put things in their rear-view mirror quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Instead, the perceived snubbing Monday could be a motivator for the Wolfpack heading into the regional.

“We were disappointed because we thought we performed well enough and took care of business to be in the top eight teams in the nation,” third baseman Grant Clyde said. “We can’t dwell on it now. The way we look at it we’d have to play the same teams to get there anyway.

“It’s definitely motivation. We think we deserve a top-eight seed. Now we’re out to prove ... we are a top eight team in the nation.”

Avent said he was not sure of the pitching rotation for the regional or the starter against Binghamton, the America East champion. Avent said sophomore lefty Carlos Rodon, who had 14 strikeouts in 10 innings against the Tar Heels, likely would start Saturday.

Clyde said “1968” is posted on every Wolfpack player’s locker. Only one N.C. State team has played in the College World Series – the ’68 team. That’s the goal.

“You’ve got to move forward and get ready for what’s next,” centerfielder Brett Williams said. “We know we’ve got some serious competition coming to our regional. We’re just excited for the postseason.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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