There were moments on Saturday, that it looked like the Wolfpack were going to sweep ANOTHER ranked ACC team. Although they didn’t quite pull it off, winning two of three guaranteed State a #3 seed heading into the ACC Tournament. A pair of dramatic 6-4 wins officially completed the comeback of the year, from last place in all of the ACC, to top seed in Pool C.
UNC: When it comes to baseball and postseason play, I don’t want to f*ck with a rival. I don’t remember the last trip to Omaha because I blocked that completely out of memory, but I think UNC was somehow involved? Maybe? Let’s move on… When you look at State’s amazing comeback, the sweep AT UNC (who at that point was ranked #11 in the nation) is easily the trajectory changer. Reid Johnston went the distance in Game 1, then it was the beautiful two inning closer role for Willadsen before he literally came right back to pitch an amazing 7.1 in Game 3.
After that sweep by State, UNC had moments of getting hot, but ultimately just weren’t the same. The key factor, at least for this elite analyst*, is UNC struggles mightily away from Chapel Hill. On the road they are 6-14 overall, 2-7 in their last three road series. Compare that to State’s stellar 15-3 road record, and Charlotte will be a major advantage for the Wolfpack.
*Not an elite analyst.
PITT: The. Panthers. Have. Fallen. Off. The. Face. Of. The. Earth. State fans, let me know if you’ve heard a team doing this before. Starts the season hot as heck going 12-5, ranked, looking to make a historic program run, then the wheels fall off. If you answered, “Just about every State season in the last 15 years,” you’re right! Panthers had two series in a row cancelled, before going 2 of 3 against BC, swept by State and then swept by freaking Wake Forest (and the games weren’t even close, 1-6, 5-12, 2-10). This was a team heading into the final weekend, that could have jumped into a top-6 seed and then just pooped the bed.
That said, State can’t be the ones that let them off the mat. Their bats are struggling and the can’t seem to get folks out. Get a win and then put it all out there for the UNC game that follows.
NCAA Tournament Outlook
I know, I know, I know, I know…Vonwolf, why the hell are we jumping ahead. Feel free to skip this section if you like, but here are the brief details. With yet another 2 wins over ranked opponents, State will be at least a high #2 for the NCAAT. They’re now a top-25 RPI team, ranked by Baseball America as #15 and if the committee takes into account recent play (which the absolutely should) State has now gone 19-4 since 4/6 with 9 of those wins against top-16 ranked opponents.
If State would have swept FSU, would have been a really good chance they switch spots with the #9 Seminoles and therefore find themselves teasing the committee for a #1 seed (although they might have had to “host” in Charlotte…but again…and I can’t emphasize this enough…we want dat road life).
Regardless, the team is playing hot and are fired up about postseason play. After the loss in Game 3 to FSU, Avent was adamant that his team was pissed off they could finish out the regular season with a win. Hopefully the Pack has four more wins in them for this week, and another handful for June.
Barstool Sports asks if NC State freshman Tommy White is greatest player of all time after 5 HR weekend
After 3 games, NC State freshman Tommy White has already made a name for himself.
I mean, it’s not like White was a nobody before this, he was the 18th overall player in the nation and top 3B in the country coming in (according to Perfect Game). But I don’t think anyone expected this.
This is just outrageous.@NCStateBaseball freshman slugger Tommy White finished the weekend with:
What a weekend.
— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) February 21, 2022
Yeah, you’re seeing that right. 5 HRs in his first 3 college games. See’em for yourself.
Tommy White’s five homers this weekend had an average exit velocity of 105.6 MPH and average distance of 416 feet, per @TrackManBB
ABSOLUTE NUKES 💣
— Raleighwood Scott (@ScottNCSU) February 21, 2022
That debut prompted a headline from Barstool Sports, asking if Tommy is the greatest of all time. And while that might be premature, no body has ever had a start to their college career quite like this.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 21, 2022
Oh yeah, and by the way, the Pack swept Evansville and is now 3-0 to start the year.
Top quotes from Elliot Avent’s preseason presser, and reading between the lines
Elliot Avent sat in with the media for a preseason interview. He touched on last year, he dove into this year’s roster, and while he didn’t give us the “We’re out for revenge!” quotes we all wanted, between the lines you can see that this is a guy who is laser-focused on getting back to the College World Series and taking back what was rightfully his. (Watch the full interview here from The Wolfapcker’s YouTube channel)
On putting last year behind him and moving on…
“I never put anything behind me, so that’s a long way from being behind me. Trust me.”
On if the team is ready to get started on a new season…
“Players are always ready to get started. You know, you like to play the game. It’s kind of like Allen Iverson said: “Practice? I mean, Really?” Guys want to play, that’s what we all love to do.”
On the talent he has on this team (which he segwayed into a comment about starting freshmen)…
“We’ve got some guys who are very talented. I was just sitting there talking to Brett Austin, and you talk about “Hey, we’re probably gonna have a freshman starting behind the plate, a freshman starting at shortstop, and then we lost possibly as good a centerfielder as NC State has ever had in Tyler McDonough last year and so you’ve got a new guy in centerfield.”
On his talented starting rotation…
“Just to see Canaan Silver, David Harrison, obviously you mentioned Sam, and Matt Willadsen, and Chris Villaman. It gives you some reassurance. I’ll be honest with you.”
On dealing with the COVID forfeit from last year’s College World Series…
“Never talk about it, never discuss. It’s not talked about by players, it’s not talked about by me.”…”So we never discuss it, but do I think about it? Constantly. It will never get too far away from me and I’ll never forget it.”
On using last year’s CWS COVID forfeit as motivation for this year…
“I don’t take any motivation from anything that has wronged me in the past. I don’t believe in chips on my shoulder. I’m not a guy that believes in that kind of stuff .. you know, revenge. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”
On the expectations of Matt Willadsen…
“I don’t ever try to get expectations too high for anybody. I think that’s a bar you shouldn’t give people. But Matt Willadsen, I told him the other day, about a week ago, we were sitting in the dugout, I just said… “Matt, how proud I am of you.”… He has grown so much. Last year, he and Chris Villaman grew up during the season as much as I’ve ever seen two players mature during the season. They were good, but they went to great.”
On Sam Highfill’s arm angle…
“Yeah, I’ve seen it and it’s very effective. A lot of people don’t do it. I’m surprised more people don’t do it. You’ve got to have a certain amount of athleticism to do it. It’s not easy to repeat your delivery. It’s not an easy thing. Now you’re having two deliveries, so it’s kind of like a switch hitter. You don’t see as many switch hitters today as you used to.”
On the new field renovations…
“I can’t wait. This has been a dream of not only mine, right, but every player who has ever played here, every coach before me…”
On Devonte Brown…
“Devonte Brown’s just a winner. You can sum it up pretty easy. He’s just a winner. And the leadership, I told him on several occasions this fall… ‘You and JT stayed back behind.’… They could have signed too. They could have both left this program, and with all your players leaving, all your friends leaving, it’s easy to leave as well. They made a commitment to stay here, and their leadership has been unbelievable this fall, carrying over into the spring. And we’re going to need their leadership.”
Our take on the interview is that Avent thinks he has great leadership and a ton of talent. He is also excited about his freshmen. He keeps saying that he’s not discussing last season’s ending and he’s not using it for motivation but read between the lines and it’s apparent that it’s fueling him inside. He says there’s no chip on his shoulder, but at the same time, he says he thinks about it daily and he’ll never forget. You gotta love it. This is a killer’s mentality. Don’t let your opponent see any sign of weakness. Don’t let them know what’s bothering you. Don’t let it be a distraction for your team, but deep down inside, you are driven to do it again. Prove that no matter how many times they do you wrong, you’ll always get back up and take what’s rightfully yours. It’s why I have been and always will be ‘Team Avent.’
WATCH: See a video of the new renderings of NC State’s baseball stadium upgrades
We’ve been begging NC State to go all-in on baseball and build a brand new stadium, but that’s not happening.
What is happening is a major upgrade to Doak Field, and the new mockups have just hit the wire. Check out the video above to see them.
Here is what we’ve got:
Competitive Team Performance Spaces
-Team lounge, nutrition, and sports medicine
-New playing surface
-Scoreboard and sound system upgrade
Fan Experience Upgrades
-Seating variety and quality
-Premium and entertainment space
-New shaded area
For recruiting, the new locker rooms, team lounge, weight room, batting facility, and pitching lab are going to be big helps. Doak was severely lacking any real modern amenities for the players and it’s likely that was having some impact on landing talent.
For the fans, the real addition is the new shaded area and concession upgrades. It looks like you’ll be able to grab some BBQ and a beer and hang out in a standing room only, shaded zone, while you watch the game. These types of spaces have done well in newer MLB stadiums, so my guess is that they’ll be popular here.
And what is that on field level? Are those tents with grills? Can you rent out a little tailgate zone and throw your own burgers on during the game? Count me in. Well, first tell me how much that is going to cost and whether or not I’ll be able to bring my own meat. But if that all checks out, then yeah, count me in!
Oh, here’s the bad news. These upgrades are costing $15 million and will be completed in phases.
1st – The field upgrades.
2nd – The player experience upgrades.
3rd- The fan experience upgrades.