NC State's Elliott Avent on ACC Tournament win
The N.C. State baseball team stayed hot on Tuesday during the opening day of the ACC Baseball Championship.
N.C. State scored three runs in the first inning and cruised to a 6-1 victory over Boston College at Louisville Slugger Field. It was the 14th win in the last 16 games for the surging Wolfpack (34-23).
N.C. State will play North Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday night.
“You know, confidence is a big factor,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. “Losing doesn’t breed confidence; winning does. And early in the year we had too many losses, a lot of one-run losses.
“I think with winning comes confidence and with winning comes looseness and a belief that you’re not going to lose. That’s where this club’s at now.”
Just before the streak, N.C. State was swept by Boston College (25-27) in a three-game series in Boston. But the Wolfpack turned the tide in the ACC tournament opener with eight hits and a solid performance on the mound.
Johnny Piedmonte (7-0) scattered six hits – including three bunt singles – and allowed just one run in five innings to get the victory. Sean Adler allowed just one hit and walked three in four innings of shutout relief.
“I think before that we were playing pretty well, but everything has sort of come together a little bit,” Piedmonte said. “We got some quality starts with some guys. Our hitters are all putting up good ABs, and I think it’s more a comfortable thing, comfortable and confidence. Some things are going our way, so it’s just been really fun these last couple games.”
The Wolfpack wasted little time getting going in this game. N.C. State put a three-spot on the board in the bottom of the first with three straight singles to start the game. Brett Kinneman plated the first run on a one-out fielders’ choice before Will Wilson’s bloop single to right field scored the other two runs.
“I don’t want to use the term, not-hit-the-ball-that-hard, but we had a couple soft hits fall in which got us to a three-run lead,” Avent said.
Boston College opened the second and third innings with back-to-back singles, but on both occasions was unable to plate a run against Piedmonte.
Kinneman put it out of reach with a three-run home run to right in the seventh inning off reliever John Witkowski to end the scoring. It was the ninth homer of the season for Kinneman, who said the early lead made it “easier for us.”
“It allowed us to free up in the box,” he said. “And I’m sure with Johnny going out there with a 3-0 lead, it makes it easier for him to control the game. It just both ways worked for us here.”
The Wolfpack will play the Tar Heels on Friday night in its final pool-play game of the tournament. The winner of each of four pools moves on to Saturday’s semifinals. The title game is slated for Sunday at noon.
“We’re talking about going on a vacation,” Avent said with a chuckle. “We talked about maybe going to London or taking in some sightseeing in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“No, we’re going to see the city of Louisville a little bit. We’re staying at a big-time hotel, we went to a big-time restaurant last night, and we might go to another big-time restaurant on Thursday night. Tomorrow we’re going to the Muhammad Ali museum. So it’s a little bit of a vacation.
“We’re going to have a few days off and come back and play Friday night.”