In 18 years as head baseball coach at NC State, Elliott Avent has molded the Wolfpack into one of the nation's best and most consistent programs. Starting with his hiring in 1996, Avent has taken the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament in 13 of the last 18 seasons, and 10 of the last 12. Avent captured both ACC and National Coach of the Year honors in 2003.
The 2014 NC State baseball squad saw seven players taken in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, tied for the third-most all-time at NC State. Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner became the Wolfpack's first-ever three-time All-Americans and gave State a pair of first round picks for the first time in program history. Andrew Knizner earned Freshman All-America honors and a spot on the All-ACC third team. Brett Austin joined Turner and Rodon on the All-ACC first team.
In 2013, the Wolfpack returned to Omaha for the first time since 1968 and the second time in program history. Avent was named the 2013 ABCA Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for his efforts.
In his NC State career, Avent has amassed 681 career victories, produced 21 All-Americans, and six of the eight first-team All-Americans in NC State's 107-year baseball tradition.
Avent's 18 years in Raleigh have created a legacy of victories and of individual and collective achievement:
13 NCAA regionals 4 NCAA Super Regionals 21 All-Americans 6 of the 8 first-team All-Americans in the program's 105-year history 31 first-team All-ACC selections 58 total All-ACC selections 82 players taken in the MLB draft, 65 in the last 12 years ACC and National Coach of the Year in 2003 Selected for the USA Baseball coaching staff in 2004 and won a Gold Medal at the World University Games in Chinese Taipei
Since 2003, Avent has elevated NC State baseball to an entirely new level: 465 victories -- an average of more than 38 per season.
10 NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 years A school-record six consecutive NCAA appearances from 2003-08 First-ever NCAA Regional hosted on campus in 2008, second in 2012 , third in 2013 Four NCAA Regional championships, three Super Regional appearances , and one Super Regional championship 15 All-Americans and 36 All-ACC players
No previous period in the program's history comes close to duplicating that level of success. The buzz surrounding Wolfpack baseball really began to take off when Doak Field at Dail Park was renovated during the 2003 and 2004 seasons:
Annual attendance has risen more than 65 percent since the ballpark reopened in 2005. From 30,407 in 2005 and a then school record of more than 48,000 in 2008. The Wolfpack broke that record by drawing 52,840 in 2012, benefitting from the Raleigh Regional which welcomed 13,324 over four days. The 2012 average of 1,554 per game smashed the previous record. NC State has drawn more than 310,000 fans and averaged 1,254 fans per game since the renovation.
The Wolfpack defends its turf well. Avent's teams have a 219-78 record at home since the ballpark was rebuilt, a won-lost percentage of .737.
In 2012, NC State baseball needed three wins in two days to advance to the NCAA Super Regional, baseball's version of the sweet sixteen, for the first time since 2008. To make matters more difficult, the Pack was only hours removed from suffering a heartbreaking walk-off loss to Vanderbilt the night before. In a double elimination format, that loss left the Wolfpack with no margin for error.
After eliminating UNC Wilmington 17-5 on the afternoon of June 3rd, State's season hinged on two games with the Commodores. The Pack could afford to lose neither. With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth on Sunday, NC State's Matt Bergquist hit an RBI single to left to set the stage for Monday's elimination game.
With a crowd of 3,018 packed in for Monday's finale, the Pack produced some late inning magic once again. Trailing 7-3 in the eighth, Tarran Senay's three-run homer sent a charge of electricity through the crowd. An inning later, Senay delivered again with a game-winning single to score a pair.
Carlos Rodon became the most decorated freshman pitcher in Wolfpack history, capturing the ACC Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards, a consensus first team All-American, and becoming the first Division I freshman to make the Golden Spikes Award finals. Trea Turner led the nation in stolen bases with 57, the most ever by an ACC freshman and the second most in conference history. The Pack started three or more true freshmen in 61 of 63 games. State finished 13-5 when starting five freshmen, and 33-14 when starting four or more. Avent won his 200th career ACC game on March 18, and his 800th career win two weeks later on March 31. On May 17, State broke the school record for ACC wins by improving to 19-9.
The 2011 Wolfpack got off to a 10-10 start before winning eight of 10 to start the team on the path to its eighth NCAA Tournament bid in nine years. A combination of a balanced offense and standout contributions from key members of the pitching staff led the Wolfpack back to the NCAA showcase.
Pratt Maynard earned first-team All-ACC honors by hitting .323 with 21 doubles, five home runs and 41 RBIs. Righthander Cory Mazzoni struck out 10 batters or more seven times to set a school record and finished the season with 137 punchouts, third most in school history. In his final five starts of the year, Mazzoni went 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA, striking out 49 and walking just five in 37 2/3 innings. Sophomore reliever Chris Overman was 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 30 appearances Overman allowed nine runs combined in just three of his outings; his ERA was 0.81 in his other 27 appearances, covering 44 2/3 innings. Six Wolfpack players were selected in the MLB Draft, led by Mazzoni (2nd round, Mets), Maynard (3rd round, Dodgers) and first baseman Riggins (7th round, Rockies).
Avent's 2010 squad was an offensive juggernaut, ranking sixth nationally with 9.1 runs scored per game, and the Wolfpack had numerous individual and collective offensive highlights during the course of the season.
NC State tied the school record with 571 runs scored. The Wolfpack hit 98 home runs -- 3rd-most in school history -- to finish 11th nationally. Six different Wolfpack players hit 10 or more home runs, for only the 2nd time ever. NC State set a school record with 9 grand-slam home runs. Andrew Ciencin hit 4 grand slams, 2 shy of the NCAA record. Pratt Maynard drew a school-record 64 walks to finish 2nd nationally. Ciencin finished the year with 77 RBIs, tied for 5th most in a single season in school history. Dallas Poulk finished with 80 runs scored and 23 doubles, which rank 3rd and 7th, respectively, in school history.
With an explosive offense and strong contributions from starting pitchers Jake Buchanan and Cory Mazzoni, and reliever Grant Sasser, the Wolfpack won 38 games, advanced to the finals of the ACC Tournament, and earned its seventh NCAA regional bid in eight years, playing at the NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional.
Following the season, five Wolfpack players were selected in the MLB Draft, highlighted by Russell Wilson (4th round, Rockies) and Buchanan (7th round, Astros).
The stadium renovations paid off in 2008 when the Wolfpack hosted an NCAA Regional on campus for the first time in school history. With Doak Field at Dail Park filled to capacity for each game, NC State defeated James Madison and SEC power South Carolina twice to advance to Athens, Ga., for the NCAA Athens Super Regional.
NC State used a tried-and-true formula in winning 42 games and advancing to baseball's version of the Sweet 16 in 2008: pitching, defense and timely hitting.
The pitching was especially stingy. For much of the season, the Pack ranked in the top five in the nation in staff ERA and finished the season eighth. Leading a deep and talented pitching staff were All-Americans Clayton Shunick and Jimmy Gillheeney:
Shunick finished the season ranked 4th in the ACC in innings pitched, 3rd in ERA and opponents' batting average, and 2nd in strikeouts. Gillheeney converted 10 of 11 save opportunities while allowing just 5 runs (4 earned) in 32 innings all season. Gillheeney became the fourth Wolfpack closer since 2003 to save 10 games or more in a season. Wolfpack relievers won 19 games and posted a 2.98 ERA. The bullpen converted 19 of 22 save opportunities and held opponents to a .228 average. 7 different relievers converted save opportunities, and 10 recorded wins.
Offensively, Matt Payne and Marcus Jones earned second-team All-ACC honors. Five regulars batted better than .300, six drove in at least 30 runs, and five hit seven or more home runs apiece.
Shunick and Surkamp highlighted a school-record group of nine NC State players taken in the Major League Baseball draft that June. A school-record six Wolfpack pitchers were drafted in 2008. Only three NC State teams -- 1988, 2003 and 2006 -- ever had more than six players drafted. The previous high for NC State pitchers drafted in a single season was three. Surkamp advanced all the way to the big leagues in 2011.
Attendance, which increased steadily from the time the Doak reopened in 2004, peaked in 2008 at 48,263, a new single-season record that shattered the old mark by more than 6,000.
The 2007 Wolfpack finished 38-23 and earned a berth in the NCAA Columbia Regional. Poulk became the Wolfpack's 14th Freshman All-American since 1984, the fourth since 2000, and the sixth in Avent's 15 years in Raleigh.
Surkamp and catcher Caleb Mangum earned second-team All-ACC honors, and the New York Yankees selected righthander Andrew Brackman in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft. The Yankees promoted Brackman to the big league club in September 2011.
NC State fielded one of the most prolific offensive teams in school history in 2006. The Wolfpack ranked third nationally in batting average, eighth in doubles, and ninth in scoring. The team finished with a 40-23 overall record, the fifth time in Avent's first 10 seasons winning 40 or more games.
At season's end, six NC State players earned All-ACC honors, and Ramon Corona and Matt Camp both were named All-America by Collegiate Baseball magazine. A then-record eight Wolfpack players were selected in the MLB June draft.
In 2005, the Wolfpack finished 41-19, won each of its last eight weekend series, seven of them in conference play, and did not lose a midweek game for the first time in 11 years.
Junior closer Joey Devine became the first NC State reliever ever and just the third in ACC history to record 10 or more saves in a season three times. Devine finished his career as NC State's all-time saves leader with 36. He became just the sixth NC State player and the 23rd in ACC history to earn first-team All-ACC honors three times. The Atlanta Braves selected Devine in the first round in the 2005 draft.
Sophomore first baseman Aaron Bates had one of the greatest offensive seasons in school history in 2005, batting .425 and leading the Pack in virtually every offensive category except stolen bases and triples. He was named first-team All-ACC, and third-team All-America.
Gib Hobson tossed NC State's first no-hitter in 12 years in early March. Freshman Andrew Brackman joined the Wolfpack at the conclusion of basketball season and quickly emerged as a dominant starting pitcher. Three Wolfpack players were selected in the MLB June draft.
In 2004, two NC State pitchers -- Vern Sterry and Michael Rogers -- earned All-America honors for the second year in a row, and joined reliever Joey Devine to make NC State the first school in Atlantic Coast Conference history to have three pitchers make first-team All-ACC in the same year.
Over the summer of 2004, Avent served on the USA Baseball coaching staff. Devine and trainer Darren Dereu also were with Team USA, which won the 2004 FISU World University Gold Medal in Tainan, Taiwan.
In 2003, NC State overcame season-long adversity to crack the national top 10 and advance to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time ever. The on-field success led to numerous Wolfpackers earning individual recognition for outstanding seasons, including three pitchers who were named All-Americans.
Avent reeled in his share of individual accolades in 2003, including ACC Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year by CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
NC State has had just 16 head coaches in more than 100 years of varsity baseball, and only three of them coached the Wolfpack longer than Avent, who passed the legendary Sam Esposito as the program's all-time winningest coach on May 9, 2010.
Despite all the awards and honors, despite all the success Avent has enjoyed at NC State, he remains essentially unchanged. His approach to the job, his unyielding enthusiasm, the way he interacts with his players and staff, his tireless work ethic and his unbridled passion for NC State, all of that remains the same.
"When I first came here, I said this was the only job I ever wanted, and that's more true today than ever," Avent says. "I've been an NC State fan all my life, and that will never change, so this job means more to me. NC State baseball is all about tradition, and I'm very proud to be a part of that tradition."
Before coming to NC State, Avent spent eight seasons (1989-96) at New Mexico State University, where he compiled a 225-213 record and left as the second-winningest coach in school history. Avent took over a New Mexico State program that school administrators were considering dropping and guided it to its greatest success ever.
Avent began his coaching career as an assistant coach at North Carolina Wesleyan from 1981-82 under former Old Dominion head coach Tony Guzzo, helping to lead the Bishops to a two-year record of 62-28 and a fourth-place finish in the 1982 NCAA Division III World Series. Avent followed Guzzo to Virginia Commonwealth in 1983 and worked there for one season. From 1984-85 Avent was an assistant coach at Louisburg (N.C.) Junior College under Hall of Fame coach Russ Frazier, an NC State alumnus.
After his two seasons at Louisburg, Avent joined Joe Breedon's staff at William & Mary in 1986 and stayed there two years. In 1988, he returned to Raleigh to join Ray Tanner's first staff at NC State and helped guide the Wolfpack to a then-school record for wins and a 45-16 overall record. He went to New Mexico State the next year.