North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent has been around college baseball a long time, but he’s never seen anything quite like last night’s game between his Wolfpack and the Akron Zips.
N.C. State’s pitchers set a new single-game NCAA Division I record by striking out 31 Akron hitters in an 18-inning contest, which the Wolfpack won 5-4. The 31 strikeouts easily beat out the previous single-game record of 26, set by Austin Peay State against Murray State in a 15-inning game in 1987. Not to be overlooked, Akron’s staff struck out 20 N.C. State hitters, and the combined 51 strikeouts is also a new D-I single-game record, shattering the old mark of 41 set in a game between Auburn and Arkansas in 1994.
On top of that, N.C. State used 11 different pitchers (just two short of an NCAA record) in a neutral-site game where the ‘Pack was the visiting team and had to shut Akron down each time out.
"We knew we had a deep staff," Avent said. "We had some guys step up and do things that were beyond what they had done this season."
The N.C. State-Akron game was the second game of the day for both clubs, with NCSU having defeated Villanova while Akron knocked off Lehigh earlier in the afternoon. Wolfpack catcher Chris Schaeffer caught seven innings of the Pack’s first game then all 18 innings of the nightcap, all because the Wolfpack’s backup catcher (freshman Pratt Maynard) came down with a stomach ailment on the day of the games.
"He looks exhausted," Avent said. "He must have blocked 30 balls last night, but he never looked like he was tired. He was outstanding."
N.C. State will move on to play Miami this weekend in the Atlantic Coast Conference opening series for both clubs, but the Wolfpack is glad to have a day to rest, recoup and savor the experience of writing their names in the record books.
"We didn’t extend anybody," Avent said. "Every move (pitching coach Tom) Holliday made was calculated. We’re all so proud of our guys. In a game like that, there are plays made all over the place."
"Every inning—we were the visitors—they could’ve beat us," Holliday said. "Every time we had to make pitches, we made them. Every time we had to make a play defensively, we made it. There’s a little bit of self-inflicted pressure to win, so there was some tension there which I love early in the year. Blowing people away tells you nothing about your ballclub. Yesterday told me a lot about our ballclub."