Avent Reaches Milestone With 1,100th Career Win

Brett Friedlander

NC State's Elliott Avent didn't realize he'd reached an important career milestone Friday until the coach of the team his Wolfpack had just beaten congratulated him.

"Marlin Ikenberry, the guy at James Madison who does a great job and we've known each other a long time, we were talking at home plate," Avent said after State's 4-0 season opening win against Ikenberry's Dukes.

"I was actually talking about how great his pitcher was and when he walked away, I guess he looked on the scoreboard and it was out there. He asked: is that 1,100? And I didn't know."

He does now.

Friday's victory was, in fact, the 1,100th in Avent's career.

The first 225 came at New Mexico State, where he spent his first eight seasons as a head coach. The other 875 have come during his tenure with the Wolfpack.

This one was delivered by junior pitcher Nick Swinney, who struck out a career-high 11 hitters in his seven innings of work, while Jonny Butler provided all the offense that was needed with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second.

Avent's accomplishment was celebrated with little fanfare, which is how the veteran coach preferred it. At the same time, though, he said that reaching the 1,100-win mark is something to be proud of.

"That's a lot of wins," he said. "But that's a lot of years, too. Absolutely it means a lot. If you said it doesn't mean anything, you'd be lying. Baseball is very, very important to me and this school is very, very important to me. Yeah, it means a lot."

Avent had a chance to reflect on his time with the Wolfpack and the success he's achieved in a phone conversation before Friday's game with the man who hired him, former State athletic director Les Robinson.

"I called him before the game, as I do every year and I thanked him for taking the chance  on me," Avent said. "I just told him I'll never forget it and I appreciate you taking a chance n me. And he said, hey, it goes both ways.

"He knew how long I'd been here. He said 'you've been here 24 years, you've made me proud because it makes me look like I made the right choice.':