NC State’s Avent named manager of USA Baseball Collegiate team; Wolfpack pitchers Highfill, Villaman also make squad

NC State

Carolina State head coach Elliott Avent, right, meets with umpires before playing against Stanford in the opening baseball game of the College World Series Saturday, June 19, 2021, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent has been named manager of the 2021 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

Sam Highfill and Chris Villaman have also been named to the team, which was announced on Wednesday by the organization.

Additionally, student coach Josh Pike will serve as a member of this year’s coaching staff.

This will be Highfill and Villaman’s first selection to represent the Red, White and Blue, as the 2021 season marks the fourth consecutive year that at least one N.C. State player has been named to the team.

Highfill and Villaman were both vital parts of N.C. State’s pitching staff during the 2021 season saw the Wolfpack reach its first College World Series since 2013, and third all-time.

Highfill leads the staff with a 9-2 record and a 3.66 earned-run average on the season, and has gone 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament while surrendering just three earned runs in 19.0 innings pitched. Additionally, the Wolfpack has won 10 straight games with Highfill starting on the mound.

The right-hander leads the staff with 16 starts, and in his most recent outing on Monday against fourth-seeded Vanderbilt in Omaha, he went a career-long 7.1 innings and yielded just two hits in the 1-0 shutout win.

Villaman has been a versatile pitcher for the Wolfpack, having success as a starter and out of the bullpen with a 5-2 record and two saves.

On March 30 at UNCG he threw a one-hitter complete game shutout, becoming the first N.C. State pitcher to do so since 1997, and on May 11 vs. UNCW he struck out a career-best 12 batters which are the second-most by an N.C. State pitcher in a single game this season.

The southpaw has seen considerable time in the postseason, including 7.0 innings in relief during the NCAA Tournament. He recorded a save against Louisiana Tech where he closed out the NCAA Ruston Regional victory with five strikeouts in 3.0 innings pitched, then tossed 3.0 innings in relief in the winner-take-all game at No. 1 Arkansas on June 13 to put the Pack in line for a win.

Below is the full list of N.C. State players to make Team USA since 1984:

2021: Sam Highfill, Chris Villaman
2019: Patrick Bailey
2018: Patrick Bailey, Will Wilson
2017: Will Wilson
2013: Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon
2012: Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon
2007: Eric Surkamp
2006: Andrew Brackman
2004: Joey Devine
1997: Tom Sergio
1993: Andy Barkett, Pat Clougherty, Terry Harvey

The rest of the team will be announced

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