May 30, 2003


Familiar foe awaits Avent

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder

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 homer.


“In this ballpark, we thought he could do some damage against a left-handed pitcher,” Avent said. “And he stepped up and did it.”


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.”