RALEIGH — 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 dont know what else this team could do. All I can say is (I am) shocked. Its 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 were playing, we know were 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, its 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 doesnt expect any lingering effect among the players, saying, These guys can put things in their rear-view mirror quicker than anybody Ive 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 cant dwell on it now. The way we look at it wed have to play the same teams to get there anyway.
Its definitely motivation. We think we deserve a top-eight seed. Now were 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 players locker. Only one N.C. State team has played in the College World Series the 68 team. Thats the goal.
Youve got to move forward and get ready for whats next, centerfielder Brett Williams said. We know weve got some serious competition coming to our regional. Were just excited for the postseason.