NC State's Avent on advantages of hosting NCAA regional baseball tournament
N.C. State is a hitting team that didn’t hit in the ACC tournament.
That’s baseball, as many Wolfpack players said after they lost both conference tournament games in Durham last week.
The Wolfpack is hoping to get back on track in the NCAA tournament. Returning to Doak Field should be a good thing for the top seed in the Raleigh Regional.
N.C. State (40-16), which will open regional play on Friday against fourth-seeded Army (36-22), hit 80 points higher at home than away this season.
“Coming back here will be a big help,” senior Brock Deatherage said. “We started off the year with a lot of games here at home. We’ll be able to get back on top of things.”
Being home has historically helped N.C. State in the NCAA tournament. N.C. State is 16-3 at home in regional play compared to 10-18 on the road since the format was adopted in 1999. It has advanced to the Super Regional round four times and only when it has been a regional host (2003, ’08, ’12 and ’13).
The last time N.C. State was a regional host, in 2016, was the only time it didn’t win the regional as the host. It lost a heartbreaker to Coastal Carolina in a marathon elimination game after having the eventual national champions down to their last strike.
Coach Elliott Avent said location can help but it’s not everything.
“How you play is more important than where you play,” Avent said.
N.C. State has undoubtedly hit and played better at home. It hit .317 in 36 home games with 8.1 runs per game and 61 home runs. The Wolfpack has a 27-9 record at Doak Field this season.
In 20 games away from home (17 road, three neutral site), N.C. State hit .237 with 5.1 runs per game and 20 home runs. The Wolfpack went 13-7 in those games.
The Wolfpack is trying to get its hitting mojo back from the beginning of the season. The Wolfpack hit .310 as a team through 28 games in February and March and averaged 7.4 runs per game. Not surprisingly, it went 23-5 in those games. In April and May, also 28 games, the Wolfpack hit .266 and scored6.5 runs per game and went 17-11.
Despite its recent hitting problems in Durham, N.C. State enters NCAA play ranked No. 5 in the country in home runs (81) and No. 25 in scoring (7 runs per game).
Getting away from Florida State’s pitching staff might help. The Wolfpack hit .197 in four games (three of which were losses) against the ACC champions. FSU lefty Drew Parrish had 24 strikeouts, in 16.2 innings, in two starts against the Wolfpack last week.
“I don’t think our bats have cooled off so much as we’ve seen some outstanding pitching lately, which I think is going to help us down the stretch,” Avent said.
The Seminoles and Parrish are safely in the other half of the bracket but the Wolfpack better get used to quality pitching from here on out.
“I don’t think anybody is worried at all,” catcher Patrick Bailey said of the team’s recent hitting slump. “We’re in really good shape for this weekend. We’ll just have to find ways to get it done.”
And that has been easier at home for N.C. State than anywhere else.