Just a little baseball news during the All-Star break – after 13 years without winning an ACC Championship or finishing in first place in the conference, NC State Head Baseball Coach Elliot Avent got a big boost to his program when former Wolfpack first baseman Aaron Bates was called up to the major leagues by the Boston Red Sox. (Link to N&O blog)
He struggled to hit the ball in his first couple of games last week, but then broke through with his first major league hit on Saturday. Then Sunday, just before the All-Star break, he broke through, going 3-for-4 with a run, a pair of doubles and an RBI.
You see, until Bates’ promotion, NC State was the only ACC Baseball program that did not currently have a single former player on a major league roster. (Note: Adam Everett was one of Avent’s biggest recruits and currently plays shortstop for the Detroit Tigers; but Everett actually fled NC State’s program and finished his college career playing for Ray Tanner at South Carolina.) This is obviously time to rejoice!
The most recent ACC Sports Journal broke down the players in the MLB by ACC institution and the numbers didn’t look good for the Wolfpack. (The ACCSJ must be inherently ‘negative’ because of their objective factual analysis, right?)
Georgia Tech – 11
Florida State – 9
Clemson – 6
Miami – 6
North Carolina – 5
Maryland – 4
Virginia – 3
Duke – 2
Wake Forest – 2
Boston College – 1
Virginia Tech – 1
NC State – 0 (unless you want to include a player that finished his college career at South Carolina)
In a timely piece, The Wolfpacker ran this feature with Avent titled, ‘We’re on the right track’, despite the fact that half of the ACC’s programs have participated in the College World Series in just the last four years. Of course, when you work for Lee Fowler, one would think that a program that just had its worst season in over 40 years is clearly ‘on the right track’.
I couldn’t help but fall in love the following quote that is CLASSIC NC State – bury your head and refuse to admit reality that cannot be refuted. How can any coach in west Raleigh ever be held ‘accountable’ when the leader of their Department can’t recognize the truth?
Like most coaches, Avent didn’t want to use the word “rebuilding” entering the season, but recognizes now that with the losses of offensive standouts Ryan Pond, Marcus Jones, Jeremy Synan and Matt Payne — along with the departure of pitchers Eryk Surkamp, Clayton Shunick and Eryk McConnell — there was little choice but to start over.
“You never want to use that word ‘rebuilding,’ and deep down it’s hard to admit that’s what happened, but when you lose that many guys, it doesn’t take much to make you realize you’re going to have to go through at least a regrouping period,” Avent said.
On the other hand, you can’t really argue with Avent when he is 100% correct – NC State is NOT rebuilding. To REbuild, one must have built something to begin with. Avent has never won a championship and more of his teams have struggled to simply make the NCAA Tournament in the last half of his tenure in Raleigh than in the first half of his tenure. Based on actual results, NC State is clearly in the lower half of ACC Baseball…but, Lee Fowler would call that ‘progress’ or ‘growth’ and then get mad if anyone would try to figure out HOW?
I am not going to belabor this point any more. If you’ve read this far, then you will certainly enjoy this entry that serves as a nice complement here.