PC: Pack Talks Notre Dame Win

DURHAM, N.C. -- NC State's Elliott Avent, Brian Brown, and Andrew Knizer discuss the ACC Tournament win over Notre Dame.

NC State PC

ELLIOTT AVENT: I thought we played very, very well. You know, sitting there for that kind of rain delay, especially getting to the ballpark at 7:30 this morning for an early game, and then to come here and sit there that long, you don't know how you're going to come out. But our guys are so relaxed right now and so confident, I don't think anything bothers them.

So came out, had some great at-bats, a big two-out hit by Joe Dunand followed by Willard and that gets us two runs. And then Knizner has a big, I think it was a two-out knock in the next inning to make it three runs. And Brian Brown made that stand up, he was outstanding especially in the second. There were four plays that we usually make that we didn't make any of them. You could almost see it in his face, he just gets-- I'm telling you, he's so tough and so competitive. He's actually hard on himself and he was a part of that with that ball he threw to first. So anyway, that was a big inning for us and then he pitched outstanding, gave us all he had, got to about a hundred pitches and Curt Britt did a great job of finishing it up.

Brian, how tough was the rain delay for you and what did you do to kind of overcome that?
BRIAN BROWN:
It wasn't too bad for me. Just hung out, hung out with the guys, do what we usually do before games, nothing too big, and then went out and did my thing.

Andrew, last year I believe you made the freshman team as a third baseman. This year you convert to catcher. Could you talk about that transition from third base to catcher?
ANDREW KNIZNER:
It hasn't been easy. Coach Hart, Coach Avent, Pratt Maynard worked with me pretty much when we started fall practice and, you know, I'm here today. So it's been fun, I enjoy it and I look forward to doing it in the future.

Brian, you had 18 putouts, 10 of them were strikeouts. What was working well for you today? You don't really fit the quintessential profile of a strikeout pitcher. Do you think of yourself as a strikeout pitcher?
BRIAN BROWN:
Well, at least in high school I was, I had a lot of strikeouts in high school, but as I've come to college I've been here and there striking out people. But today my changeup was really on. I usually have a little bit better fastball command but it still was good enough to get the job done.

Andrew, this year's team doesn't have the star power, the big names that last year's team did. What has made this team so much better than that, and how well are you playing as a team right now going into this most important part of the season?
ANDREW KNIZNER:
We're obviously playing our best baseball right now. The last 15 games or so we have a pretty good record against some pretty good teams. So we're playing with confidence and a lot of that we have to credit to seniors. The senior leadership has been really outstanding this year. They've really directed us, showed us the right direction, the right path to go. And we're playing good baseball, a lot of confidence and look forward to playing some better baseball here in the future.

Brian, you were just named to the All-Freshman team a few days ago, you get your first shutout win today, set a career high in strikeouts, but you still seem pretty calm. Are you happy?
BRIAN BROWN:
That's just my personality, I'm laid back. Don't get too high or too low and you'll be successful.

Andrew, first of all, congratulations, 14 putouts, well done. Just talk about what you saw from Brown and from Brit. Were they doing anything differently today how were they mixing it up?
ANDREW KNIZNER:
They didn't do anything different. They've been like this all year for us. Two of our best guys on the staff. Brown, like you said, his changeup was working really well tonight, a lot of swings and misses on that pitch, and they pounded the zone. When they get ahead on hitters, really the hitters have no shot when they're behind and they have to hit his changeup, and Brit's slider and curveball, really good job by both of those guys today. Only gave up three runs, or three hits. I mean, that's outstanding.

Elliott, when you think of the old days maybe back in the '90s when this tournament was here, aluminum bats and the double elimination format and balls are flying around the park, how comforting is it to see just three hits and none of them left the infield.
ELLIOTT AVENT:
It's good, especially in the ninth when you know like we were up I think 2-0 on Notre Dame in South Bend and we wound up playing 14 innings. They got two in the ninth and we wound up playing I think 14 innings there, then had to play another game of a doubleheader and they got the first guy on the ninth on an infield single. You never really are that comfortable, but it is more comforting today even with the new baseball than the old days like you're talking about when you sit there and kind of hold your breath because a five-run inning might be right around the corner.

Coach, could you ever expect a performance from Brian like this before you came into the game today?
ELLIOTT AVENT:
Oh, absolutely. He's been our best pitcher all year. Actually, talk about making All-Freshman team, he should have made All-Conference. I mean this guy, if you look at his numbers, I just don't understand how he wasn't All-Conference. But this guy's been our guy all year. Very, very competitive. And he talks about his fastball command wasn't quite as good as he wanted it, but this guy, a freshman who's pitched this many innings has also pitched on one day's shorter rest than he's used to two out of the last three weekends because of how it's fallen. So just really proud of him and the way he competes, and I know the team loves this guy but they usually love people who kind of pound the zone and throw strikes.

Coach, can you talk about Andrew's transition from third base to catcher as well?
ELLIOTT AVENT:
First of all, you know, he gave me and Pratt Maynard credit. You can give Coach Hart all the credit. Coach Hart proposed the idea to me. Worked pretty good for Buster Posey. I couldn't believe when Florida State did that, and now he's one of the top players in all of professional baseball. I've told Knizner I've seen a couple interviews with Buster, just watch those interviews. His character's so high, it's easy to see-- not easy to see but you can see how he did what he did. And Knizner's kind of the same character guy. Just a team guy first, character guy. When we approached him about it, he said absolutely. He and Coach Hart worked their butts off and he's become one of the best players in the ACC.

Elliott, considering the turnover from last year, are you surprised at how they well this team is playing and what it's accomplished already, and if so, what is the biggest surprise out of the bunch?
ELLIOTT AVENT:
People keep saying that. Last year's team was pretty good, I don't want people faulting last year's team. I thought they were pretty good. I think if they win that Carolina game, I think they go to the NCAAs and they may very well go back to Omaha. When you get to postseason, anything can happen. So last year's team was probably a little better than y'all remember, but this is a good team. We got there a different way, it's still got great players. Ratledge has had a year as good as Trae Turner or Brett Austin had. And so I think Knizner said it, just give a lot of credit to the senior leadership on this ballclub. I thought the senior leadership was phenomenal and leadership kind of flows down. We have some freshman that are playing this many games for the first time in their life. If you look at how Joe Dunand, Brian Brown, Josh McLain, Logan Ratledge, Tommy DeJuneas, if you look at people who have made an impact on this ballclub, then they're here because of their ability to follow and other guys' ability to lead, so I think that's made a big difference in our ballclub.

Elliott, all three runs scored with two outs. Just talk about the timely hitting today, please.
ELLIOTT AVENT:
Yeah, timely hitting's everything. If you get two-out hits, I mean, it's not only a pick-me-up for you but it's a heartbreaker for the other ballclub, so that was huge. You feel like you're gonna score maybe a couple more and you've got to give a lot of credit to Kerrigan, he was outstanding after that. He just showed who he is, you know what I'm saying, how valuable he's been to that Notre Dame ballclub, a veteran who's done it for several years now. And Tully, I thought that was a great move bringing Tully in behind Kerrigan. He just totally had us baffled.

Coach, how pleased are you to open up the ACC tournament with a win? How big is that as you guys move forward?
ELLIOTT AVENT:
It's huge because in this format if you lose the first game, doesn't mean you're out of it, but it's kind of tough, you know what I'm saying? It's tough to be in the championship game. We would love to win the championship for our fans and for each other. This team is really close. The things they say in the dugout to each other, the things they talk about watching the game, they're not complaining about this, that. They're just talking about umpire zones so we know what to swing at and how we're playing and how we're pitching. They're a together group and they want to win this championship, so the easiest way to win it is to win Game 1, so I like that.


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