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NC State continues elite offensive output in Super Regional rout of Georgia 

image_6483441 (3)by:Noah Fleischman06/08/24


ATHENS, Ga. — NC State coach Elliott Avent has a thing for the fundamentals in sports. He found himself watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Friday night and Avent became infatuated with Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis. 

Why? He can do it all — shooting, passing (Avent’s favorite) and rebounding. 

As Avent found himself talking about an NBA star, he quickly related it back to his own team. The Wolfpack focused on becoming a fundamentally sound team this spring, including smart base running and putting the ball in play — and it has paid off. 

No. 10 NC State coasted past No. 7 Georgia 18-1 to open the Athens Super Regional on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field. 

The Pack did it by putting pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense with small ball and grabbing extra bases with runners on, rather than focusing on the long ball — Avent equated that to shifting the focus from dunks and three-pointers to layups and passing. 

That, Avent thought, has been the key to getting the Wolfpack to this point in the postseason.

“In baseball, we got away from it too with the home runs and strikeouts,” Avent said. “Having quality at-bats and being able to move the baseball, knowing when to take, when to work the count and what the inning is setting up, I think our guys have done a great job down the stretch. I think it’s what has made us a good ball club.”

The second inning was nearly a textbook example of what Avent and the Wolfpack are looking for when it comes to the fundamentals of the sport. NC State used a pair of bunt singles to help load the bases before graduate outfielder Noah Soles cleared them with a three-RBI double. 

While small ball helped set an 11-run inning up for success, the Pack’s ability to create more pressure on the base paths was critical. Freshman swiss army knife Luke Nixon put on a masterclass in base running, while junior shortstop Brandon Butterworth was able to go first to third and later scored. 

In addition to the two speedsters, NC State’s power hitters were also involved in the base running philosophy. Graduate third baseman Alec Makarewicz, who went 4-for-6 with an RBI and three runs scored, tagged on a foul out down the right field line to get to third before he later crossed home. 

Avent could not have been more proud of his team’s ability to put the Bulldogs in high stakes situations. 

“That’s where we’ve gotten better,” Avent said. “Those things matter. And if you want to be a complete baseball team, that’s the thing you have to do.”

The fruits of the Wolfpack’s improvement on the base paths showed in the 17-run win, the second-largest margin of victory in a Super Regional game this week. 

While NC State had a ball with its ability to manufacture runs early, the Wolfpack did hit five doubles and clubbed five home runs to put the game out of reach. The second inning was a catalyst in that, but the Pack also scored in five other innings to keep its foot on the gas. 

“Hitting is contagious,” said junior catcher Jacob Cozart, who went 3-for-6 with two home runs and three RBI. “We started out the game with a quick inning, but then the second inning came around and we had two really, really good bunts down. … Chaos unloaded and then we just started rolling.”

Now, the Wolfpack offense has NC State just one win away from another trip to the Men’s College World Series. The Pack was on a receiving end of a blowout loss to open a Super Regional — a 21-2 defeat at Arkansas in 2021 — but it was able to win the next two games to advance to Omaha. 

Avent isn’t worried about his team falling comfortable after it beat the Bulldogs with ease to open the weekend series. Instead, he is confident they are more than ready for Game 2 at noon on Sunday. 

“Every game of baseball is special and every game of baseball is different and every day is a new day,” Avent said. “Just keep playing baseball. Don’t think about anything in the past and don’t get too far down the road, just play the game. That’s what we’ll do.”

The Wolfpack was not over joyous after it won the Raleigh Regional last week and it had the same stoic attitude after it beat Georgia. 

Why? NC State is searching for its first national championship, and it is not content with just one win in a Super Regional. That is the mindset it will bring back to the stadium less than 24 hours after it took the opener. 

“We know that our job’s not done yet,” Cozart said. “We still have a big game tomorrow. We’re focused on that now. We’re just going to go out and do what we do. We’ve been doing that the whole season. We know what our job is and we’re going to do it.”

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