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June 25, 2021

Elliott Avent

Omaha, Nebraska, USA

NC State Wolfpack

Postgame Press Conference

Vanderbilt - 3, NC State - 1

COACH AVENT: Hard-fought game. Hard-fought game against one of the great pitchers in college baseball. And I think he's one of the finalists for the Golden Spike Award, a great honor, well-deserved on his part.

And I thought our guys fought it with everything they had. We just -- when you're going against a guy like Kumar Rocker you can't leave 12 men on base. I know it's hard to get that hit because of his stuff and how good and competitive he is, followed up by some pretty good arms behind him. But wish we could have found a way to scratch a hit there and maybe we got a different outcome.

Q. Can you just walk me through your day today when you found out that your roster, or your lineup was going to be different. And of course no moral victories, but what did you think of the way that your team played with the limited number of guys you had?

COACH AVENT: Well, I'll talk about the way we played which was my opening statement. Just a great gutty performance by a gutty team. That's who we've been all year. Some guys stepped up today and played in roles they haven't been asked to play in. Just really proud of that.

I don't want to discuss anything that happened today because quite frankly I have no understanding of what happened today. I'd rather not discuss any of that.

Q. Could you give us your thoughts and impressions there on Garrett getting the start today? Obviously he came here not thinking he was going to pitch today. And what did you think of his performance?

COACH AVENT: Yeah, he gets told probably at about 1:00 or maybe later, maybe it's like 1:30 that he's got the ball at 2:07 to throw against the defending national champs. You couldn't be more proud of him and his effort. But he's done that a few times this year. This is not the first time he's done that. The first time he's done that on this stage. First time we've been at this stage this year.

But if we've done things the right way and you can lock into the game itself, which obviously he was able to do -- and Feeney as well, then this stage doesn't seem too different than the past places we've been on our ascent to get here.

And just proud of what he did. I knew he was very tired at the end, but he gave us actually one more inning that we asked him to give there to make this thing work.

Q. What was your message to the team when you learned that you were only going to have 13 guys available before this game?

COACH AVENT: Well, one, there's a lot of confusion. They didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what was going on so I couldn't really tell them. But when I found out we had the option to play with 13 guys or forfeit, then obviously when you have guys that are committed to your program, as our guys are, all year, I don't think you do things from the top. I think it's always a decision made by the people that have done the work. It's always the people on the ground that get the work done. And sometimes at the top you have to make a decision. But this wasn't one of those circumstances.

And I just told the team what we were dealing with. Two options are forfeit or play with 13 guys. And my vote was to play. Let me know what you want to do. Took about probably six seconds. That's who they are. We found a way to make it work.

Like I said, if you get a knock here or there, we might be talking about playing for the national championship starting on Monday. Now we've got to come back tomorrow and beat a really good Vanderbilt team. And we've got to go back and regroup here and see what's going to happen.

Q. You said that you couldn't talk about the events of today. But coming into today, did you require your guys or encourage your guys to get vaccinated? Did you have a policy on that?

COACH AVENT: I didn't say I couldn't talk about it. I said I wouldn't talk about it. But, yeah, we talk about a lot of things, you know what I'm saying? But I've been coaching for a long time. And I think I'm the -- you can call it caretaker, baby-sitter or the guy that the parents drop their young men off and leave them in my care. And they've raised them to be the quality people that we recruit.

And my job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward. But I don't try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my things that, my opinions. Obviously we talk about a lot of things. But these are young men that can make their own decisions and that's what they did.

Q. Do you know which players certainly won't play tomorrow? Like J.T. Jarrett, we heard he was sent home. Do you know he's not going to play?

COACH AVENT: Steve, I have no idea what's going on, Zero. You know as much as I know. It just hasn't been communicated. I know this is an odd situation, and I know people have to deal with things, but we spent all day yesterday -- Rob Murphy, Scott Ensell and myself -- spent all day yesterday dealing with a lot of things.

And then today we got up and dealt with some other things. Anyway, I'm sure I'll get the information at some point. And when I get the information that the NCAA deems appropriate, then we'll go from there.

Q. You had said that you didn't want to indoctrinate your players into your philosophy. Did you get vaccinated yourself?

COACH AVENT: I'll tell you what, I'm not going to talk about that. If you want to talk baseball, we can talk baseball. If you want to talk politics or stuff like that, you can go talk to my head of sports medicine, Rob Murphy.

Q. Asked about pitching for tomorrow, you only used two guys today; you only had four. Do you have any idea who might be available to pitch tomorrow? I know you talked about some guys that might be --

COACH AVENT: Once again, it's about who is going to be on the roster, who is allowed to play. That I haven't been told yet. Hopefully I'll get that information soon and we'll go from there.

Hopefully we'll have a lot of guys to pitch. Hopefully we'll have Reid Johnston, Sam Highfill, and a lot of guys to pitch. So we'll see.

Q. Elliott, you said it was unclear about what was going on, the build-up to this game. Is there any clarity into what things could happen to make your players eligible tomorrow? Have they given you any insight into what needs to be done?

COACH AVENT: I had some kind of conversation with my athletic director, who talked to maybe the head of championships or something, and we discussed some things. And since the game has been over, Rob Murphy has told me something that he thinks is going to happen. But I'm still not really sure. I went and spoke to my team and I came straight in here.

Q. Could you kind of walk us through what this morning was like, leading up to the game and how you found out about the test or whatever -- how you found out about the COVID protocol?

COACH AVENT: Kept getting not much said. It was just like they delayed -- first they kept us out of our locker room. And some of the players had to go into a holding room. And then they delayed infield/outfield. And nobody knew what was really going on.

Then finally I got told these were our options. That's what we chose to do. That's when we played the game.

Q. Were you told you had a positive? Were you told why you were being delayed?

COACH AVENT: Once again, you're talking about stuff that's personal information. And probably protected by whatever, HIPAA. That's something I don't want to discuss. If you want to discuss that, you can discuss that with my administration.

Q. Obviously we all know -- here's a baseball question for you we all know Highfill came in as a two-way guy. How much work has he gotten as a hitter this year? And what can you say about a guy coming in and getting three hits in his first three at-bats of the year?

COACH AVENT: First of all, he's gotten zero work as a hitter. We went to him and we found out we were going to play and see if he wanted to go up to the cage and take a couple swings. He was excited.

He's just a baseball player. Baseball players do things in baseball games. And Sam Highfill is a baseball player. And if we would have taken the lead there he was going to close the game. If this game would have got extended going to extras, then he would have been at third base. He's just a baseball player. And he's smart.

I think his dad -- his granddad was one of the Phillies' top prospects; I learned that from the great legendary coach, Wayne Graham a few days ago, who played with Sam's grandfather. And you'll hear from Sam in a few minutes. And I appreciate the question.

Q. The freshman, you mentioned Payne, your thoughts on Giles and all those guys that played?

COACH AVENT: You're talking about -- this is, when you get here, even though we have nine guys that have played for three months, this is a tremendous stage and a tremendous city that -- Omaha is to college baseball what Augusta is to the Masters.

And this city, much like Augusta, just wraps their arms around all the teams that come in. And it brings in great money to the city. It brings in great exposure. The city has fun with it. Everybody we've met is awesome.

This is a grand, grand stage. For our guys to come here and play on this stage is a challenge. But these guys who haven't played all year and find out 30, 40 minutes prior to game time, hey, D, you're going to third today. And, Sam, you're going to first.

But anyway it's what you love about this game. It's one of the many things we love about this team. And it was just a lot of fun for me today watching these guys compete.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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