NC State’s Avent: ‘It is just about attitude right now and how bad they want it’
The weather made Campbell wait for its second ever NCAA tournament win.
It was worth it.
More than 24 hours after the Greenville Regional game started on Friday, the Camels closed out a 5-4 win over N.C. State on Saturday afternoon.
“Man, that was a short game,” Campbell coach Justin Haire deadpanned. “Glad it was in and out in one day. Nothing like a 24-hour game.”
Campbell (36-19) will face the winner of the ECU-Quinnipiac game on Sunday at 4 p.m. The loser will take on N.C. State (42-18) at noon.
Lightning and rainstorms kept the teams from finishing on Friday. The second delay lasted more than 5 and a half hours and kept the teams at the park until 9:30 p.m. They picked up where they left off on Saturday, at 12:06 p.m., with the Camels up 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Campbell reliever Landry Moore got N.C. State designated hitter Brad Debo to fly out to right field and then walked Terrell Tatum. After Tatum stole second, Moore struck out Lawson McArthur and got Vojtech Mensik bounce out to third.
It was first NCAA tournament win since 2014 for the Camels and second in eight games and four appearances since 1990. Campbell had some confidence heading into this regional. It went 1-1 against top-seeded ECU, with a home win, and 1-1 against the Wolfpack, with a win in Raleigh.
“I’m grateful to a part of it but at the same time, it’s not very surprising because we have a special group of guys,” Campbell pitcher Michael Horrell said.
Horrell was special with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. The Big South pitcher of the year made the Wolfpack pay for its defensive mistakes.
Normally reliable shortstop Will Wilson committed three errors, including one on the first play of the game, for the Wolfpack. Wilson, N.C. State’s top hitter, also finished 0 for 4 from the plate with four strikeouts.
“He has made nine errors on the whole year,” Haire said. “That’s baseball. It happens to the best players and he’s certainly one of the best players in the country. I certainly expect him to bounce back (Sunday).”
The heart of N.C. State’s lineup, normally its strength, only had one hit between Wilson, catcher Patrick Bailey (0 for 3) and first baseman Evan Edwards (1 for 3).
Nick Swiney was sharp in long relief for N.C. State but Campbell got four unearned runs off of starter Reid Johnston (6-2) in the first inning.
N.C. State got three runs, with the help of two Campbell errors, back in the third inning. A Wilson error in the fourth, on an attempted steal, set up Campbell’s fifth run.
Jonny Butler popped a solo home run in the eighth off of Horrell but the first lightning delay came and the Wolfpack couldn’t build off of any of that momentum.
After its second loss in three games to Campbell this year, N.C. State finds itself in the losers’ bracket. The Wolfpack has made a habit of comebacks this season. It will have to conjure up a few more to reach its first Super Regional since 2013.
“If they’re hungry and they want to fight, there’s nobody more equipped to come through the losers’ bracket than we are,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. “It’s just about attitude right now and how bad they want it.”