Familiar foe awaits Avent
By Sean Ryan
WILSON, N.C. – Elliott Avent knows a thing or
two about his opponent Saturday.
When North Carolina State faces
Virginia Commonwealth in a winners’ bracket game, the skipper of the Wolfpack
will square off against his alma mater.
“I had some great times at VCU,” said Avent, a
1983 graduate. “Coach [Tony] Guzzo got me into coaching. He’s a guy that I owe
probably more to than anyone in the game. We had a lot of great times with me
and him and Billy Swoope at VCU.”
Guzzo has moved on to the head job at Old
Dominion. Swoope, then an assistant at VCU, is a scout for the Chicago Cubs and
was in attendance last night.
Despite the warm sentiments, Avent added, “It’s
just a game.”
And it’s usually a good one.
Avent has gone 5-1 against his alma mater, but
three of the games have been decided by one run and two more have been settled
by two runs. The teams haven’t met since 2001, when N.C. State won 7-5 and 5-4.
Avent said his staff hasn’t decided on a
starter for Saturday’s game.
The likely choice is right-hander Vern Sterry,
who is 11-0 with a 3.02 ERA. A second possibility is lefty Nate Cretarolo, who
shutout Georgia Tech for the first time this season.
The Rams likely will go with lefty Sean Marshall, who is 7-2 with
a 2.69 ERA.
VCU’s Jeff Parrish hit a homer to give the Rams
a 1-0 lead in the opener. Coach Paul Keyes described the right-handed hitting
catcher’s shot as actually starting in foul territory down the left-field line
and actually slicing back toward center and inside of the pole.
In the nightcap, Dustin Knight had a great
night as the Wolfpack’s designated hitter, going 3 for 4 with a double and
“In this ballpark, we thought he could do some
damage against a left-handed pitcher,” Avent said. “And he stepped up and did
Lefty David Hicks, who plays first and possibly
could have DH’d had a right-hander been on the mound, got a pinch-hit double off
lefty Shane Burke to score a run late in the game.
The Wolfpack got a combined five RBI out of the
bottom three guys in the order – Knight, Hicks (who replaced Knight), Marc
Maynor and Adam Hargrave.
“We’ve had a strong lineup all the way through
all year,” Avent said. “It’s real interesting right now toward the end of the
season. Our bottom half has hit better than they have all year.”
Wolfpack starter Michael Rogers plunked four Le
Moyne batters, saying afterward he was trying to work inside and a couple of
pitches got away from him.
After a moment, he added: “I guess in a way, it’s a good thing.
It’s my plate.”