Avent: 'The Fans Were Incredible'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Elliott Avent met with the media following the Wolfpack's afternoon practice. NC State faces Georgia in the Athens Super Regional.

In the Super Regional against Georgia, the format changes to a three-game series. How important is it to get that first win?
I don't know, I disagree with that. To me it's a weekend series. What we concentrate on in the ACC, even though you try to sweep, you try to win series. And that's the important thing. We had a lot of times this year where we lost the first one and came back and won the last two. You just got to win two.

How much did the historic first home Regional play in your success this past weekend?
I think it was the fans. I just think the fans were incredible. I don't know if I've seen NC State fans that fired up in a long time. They were loud pitch-to-pitch, it wasn't like there was something that happened.

We've had a lot of games where we have a great crowd here that waits for something to happen, but they made things happen this weekend. They were loud for every pitch, the "Wolfpack" chant sometimes would just spring up in the middle of the game. And I think when Jeremy Synan hit that ball at the top of those trees, they were chanting it then.

Our fans our great, and we love to play in our ballpark, but now we've got to reverse that. And we play well on the road and hopefully that trend will continue.

What would getting to Omaha mean to this program?
I think it would speak volumes to a lot of people. There's so many people who have invested in this program and emotions. I've got a lot of emails and text messages and phone calls. I got a wonderful phone call from Wendell Murphy, one of our biggest and most avid supporters.

It would mean a lot to this program, but it would mean a lot to these players. They've worked extremely hard and it would mean a lot to the 2003 team that feels they should have gone. It would mean a lot to a lot of people and hopefully we can get it done.

What part did coach [Tom] Holliday and the pitching staff play in the success of the team this year?
Probably all the part, 100 percent. I've said it over and over about the job coach Holliday has done with our pitchers. With exception to Jake Buchanan and a few things there, the same pitching staff was here last year, and [are] a year older with the same people. The transformation that he's done with those guys and belief in himself, the belief that our players have in him in any situation, there's no better example than what they all did on Sunday.

What's it going to be like going into a hostile SEC environment on the road in Georgia?
We play poised on the road. The road is not going to bother us. But it's going to be loud and to communicate, you're going to have to be loud as well... you're going to have to be extremely vocal to get the same thing done that you would have in the regular season with less vocal chords.

We're going to be ready to play in that environment. We'll be fine there.

When you play a team that can put up runs like Georgia, what goes through your mind as coach?
We've got good pitching. And South Carolina put up a lot of runs too, and I think they put up three hits and eight hits here. That doesn't mean that we're going to do that to Georgia, they're a great hitting ballclub and they're hitting in an environment where they feel comfortable.

But like I said, we've got great pitching, we've got a great pitching coach, and one of his skills is dissecting hitters, and he's going to be doing a lot of that the next three days, so hopefully it will work out.

Parting Shots
NC State pitching coach Tom Holliday stated today that All-ACC ace Clayton Shunick would likely start the opener against Georgia.

"Now we're in a three-game series," said coach Holiday. "And the only question you really have to answer is, 'Do you want to make sure you go after game one or game two with your best?"

"After watching the score [of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game] build and build and build, I think we're going to lead [Clayton] Shunick off... go with him in game one. And then I'm going to wait until I see them, and we won't announce game two or three until I see who fits them best."

The three potential starting pitchers are expected to be Clayton Shunick, Eric Surkamp, and Jake Buchanan.

Shunick is 7-5 on the season with a 2.16 ERA. In 95.2 innings, he's allowed 77 hits with 108 strikeouts and just 23 walks. Opposing hitters are batting just .215 against the All-ACC selection.

Surkamp is 5-2 with a 4.39 ERA. In 14 appearances, the lefthander has 82 strikeouts and 34 walks.

Buchanan has started to really come on. With a 2-2 record, Buchanan has appeared in 19 games and has a 3.11 ERA. In 55 innings, he's recorded 39 strikeouts and 13 walks, but opposing hitters are batting just .191.

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