NC State, South Carolina to meet

May, 30, 2008

Editor's note:'s Heather Dinich will check in frequently with updates from the Raleigh Regional. For live scores throughout the NCAA tournament, click here.

NC State 6, James Madison 2

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State senior Ryan Pond entered the NCAA regional with the highest batting average on the team (.337), but his quiet bat through the first 6½ innings against James Madison on Friday night was reflective of the Wolfpack's entire lineup.

"I looked pretty bad in the first two at-bats," said Pond, who came to the plate 0-for-3 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

It turned out all the Wolfpack needed was a few clutch hits, and Pond came up with a big one -- a two-run double down the left-field line that broke a 2-2 tie. He came off the field at the end of the inning waiving his right hand in the air to get the home crowd at Doak Field riled up. (Pond said he had "let them down earlier.")

"Our fans were anxious for something to happen," NC State coach Elliott Avent said. "When [Pond] gets the double, I think you could've heard them down on Avent-Ferry [Road]. That was a clutch hit."

So was redshirt freshman Chris Schaeffer's two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that sealed the 6-2 win.

The red-clad Wolfpack fans stood when there were no seats, and it was hard to find an open patch of grass on the hill adjacent to left field. The regional No. 1-seed Wolfpack snapped JMU's six-game winning streak and sent the Dukes into the losers' bracket. JMU is still trying to win its first NCAA tournament game since 2002 -- the program's lone tournament win since 1983.

• James Madison is in the tournament for just the seventh time in school history and lumped together with three other teams who were in last year's Columbia (S.C.) Regional together. That -- coupled with the fact the Dukes were the No. 4 seed in this region -- might help explain the lack of respect coach Joe McFarland was talking about after the game.

Despite the loss, though, McFarland said his team played well enough to earn some.

"In the seventh inning, there were a lot of red people who were a little nervous," he said. "That's what we're all about this year. We're young, but we are not afraid."

• The friendship between NC State coach Elliott Avent and South Carolina coach Ray Tanner -- a former NC State player, assistant and head coach -- extends well beyond the recent series history between the two schools. They'll meet tomorrow for the first time since 1992 when they played at the NCAA Atlantic Regional in Coral Gables, Fla. (South Carolina won, 9-6.)

They haven't played during the regular season since a two-game series in Columbia in 1972, and don't have any plans on adding each other to their schedules.

"We've talked about it," Avent said. "We've been friends for so long and go so far back, but it's got nothing to do with you don't want to play somebody because you go way back and you're friends. It's just kind of like, his conference is so tough and our conference is so tough, it's probably three hours to Columbia mid-week, why force that kind of a game? We tried to work out some weekend series and just couldn't work it out with the conference starting so early, so we just never play."

Now they have no choice. Avent and Tanner will play at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?