Wilson To Make First Pitching Start

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Russell Wilson has made six appearances on the mound for NC State this spring, all of them in relief. Tonight vs. Old Dominion, Wilson (0-1, 5.68 with 1 save) will make his first start.

NC State (15-9) and Old Dominion (12-15) will tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Doak Field at Dail Park.

Wilson is hitting .348 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs in part-time work * 18 games and 10 starts * as a position player.

He's played second base, shortstop and the outfield, settling in most recently in left field. When he has been in the regular lineup, however, he has not pitched as well, and associate head coach and pitching coach Tom Holliday hopes that starting Wilson will allow Wilson to be at his best as a hurler.

"When I first saw Russell pitch back in late January and early February in preseason practice, I honestly thought he could pitch in the big leagues," Holliday said. "His stuff was that good. Once the season got started, though, what I've seen is that he's not made the transition from playing a position to coming in to pitch during a game. When he's just been available to pitch on a particular day, he's been really good. Some guys don't have any problems coming from a position to pitch, and some guys do. Starting avoids that problem."

The Series Vs. Old Dominion: NC State trails the overall series vs. Old Dominion by a 14-17-2 mark, but the Wolfpack leads the series 8-7 since Elliott Avent became head coach in 1997. Avent holds a 4-2 record vs. the Monarchs at Doak Field at Dail Park.

On the other hand, Avent-coached Wolfpack teams are 2-5 vs. ODU in Norfolk. Avent is 2-0 vs. Old Dominion at neutral sites, winning in 2000 at Charleston, S.C., and in 2003 in Zebulon's Five County Stadium.

Avent Closing In On 500: Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent enters the Old Dominion game with a record of 498-320 in his 13-plus seasons in Raleigh. He obviously needs just two more victories to become just the second coach in program history to reach 500 wins at NC State, but he needs 16 more to pass Sam Esposito as the winningest coach in NC State baseball history.

Counting his eight years at New Mexico State, Avent has an overall career record of 723-529.

Relievers Stellar In Miami Series: NC State got exceptional relief pitching in the Miami series, especially from the quartet of Grant Sasser, Rob Chamra, Felix Roque and Anthony Tzamtzis. Those four combined to make five appearances and allow four runs, three earned, on 10 hits in 14 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out 11.

Sasser pitched a career-longest 4 1/3 shutout innings in the opening game of the series, allowing two hits and striking out three without issuing a walk. He retired 14 of the 17 men he faced.

Chamra made two appearances, totalling 2 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run, and that was unearned. He allowed two hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter. He retired eight of the 10 men he faced.

Roque got the win in the middle game of the series after allowing two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Both runs scored on a homer by Yasmani Grandal. Roque set down 13 of the 20 men he faced.

Tzamtzis worked the middle three innings of the final game of the series and allowed one run on one hit, a homer by Nathan Melendres. Tzamtzis walked one and struck out one. He retired nine of the 11 men he faced.

Hitting Streaks: Kyle Wilson ran his current hitting streak to eight games by hitting safely in all three games of the Miami series. Wilson is batting .389 (14-for-36) during his current hitting streak. Wilson has hit safely in all 22 games he has started, batting .429 (39-for-91).

His lone hitless outing came March 14 when he lined out in his only plate appearance, pinch-hitting in the eighth inning at Clemson. Wilson hit safely in NC State's first 14 games and batted .455 (25-for-55) during that hitting streak.

Newcomers Still Performing: Baseball America and PerfectGameUSA both ranked NC State's 2008-09 recruiting class highly, and the Wolfpack's newcomers certainly have played a role in the Pack's 14-7 start. Freshmen Matt Bergquist, Tarran Senay, Danny Canela, Chris Diaz and Anthony Tzamtzis, along with junior college transfer Ryan Mathews, have made 93 appearances in 24 games, including 56 starts.

As a group, they are batting .323 (81-for-251) with 18 doubles, nine home runs, 70 runs scored and 59 RBIs. Canella is hitting .296 (24-for-81) with eight doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs. Bergquist began the season hot, hitting safely in the first four games of the year, and has been steadily productive, hitting .328 (19-for-58). Senay is hitting ..339 (20-for-59) with five doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs. Mathews has started three games and batted safely in all three, with a double, a home run and three RBIs.

Producing Off The Bench: Starters are starters for a reason, so it makes sense that a team's bench will not have offensive numbers as strong as its starters. That is true for NC State, but the Wolfpack's bench is deep, experienced and versatile, and has been a weapon for coach Elliott Avent.

Freshman infielder Chris Diaz is 5-for-14 with two doubles and six RBIs off the bench. He is tied for the team lead in hits off the bench and leads in doubles and RBIs off the bench.

Russell Wilson also is 5-for-14 as a reserve, and has a double, a homer and five RBIs when coming off the bench.

Catcher Chris Schaeffer is 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, one of which was the game-winning sacrifice fly in the middle game of the Miami series. Pratt Maynard is 2-for-5 off the bench.

Matt Bergquist, the Wolfpack's other freshman infielder, is a perfect 2-for-2 coming off the bench. Outfielder Ryan Mathews has just one hit off the bench, but that was a three-run home run. Sophomore first baseman Harold Riggins is 3-for-8 with a double and three RBIs coming off the bench.

Mathews, Russell Wilson and Bill Edwards all have hit home runs when coming off the bench for the Wolfpack.


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