The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 43 of 103

44 ■ THE WOLFPACKER coordinator at the time. Worried that Jones had heard industry scuttlebutt that he had committed to Wichita State, Devine urged Jones to come to Kansas to see him play. After ironing out the schedule and logis- tics, Jones arranged a flight to Kansas to see Salinas on the road in a doubleheader the first week of July. Devine played third base the first game of the doubleheader and was scheduled to pitch the second game. Only the second game never happened. "It rained like it can only rain in Kansas," Devine said. "The sky turned pitch black, there were sheets of lightning, and we had a tornado warning. The game got rained out, and Billy still hadn't seen me pitch." Right there, on the spot, Jones huddled with Devine and his family. They all agreed to caravan back to Junction City, more than an hour away, so Joey could throw a bullpen at his high school field. They got back to town about 10 o'clock that night, only to find the high school field was unavailable because the lights weren't working. After making several frantic phone calls, they finally arranged to get the lights turned on at a city-owned facility called North Park. "This was a little league field so there was no mound," Devine said. "I was going to throw off of flat ground. My brother Matt walked off 60 feet, six inches, and I started throwing. Matt was my catcher. "Billy stopped me after about a dozen pitches and said he'd seen enough. We sat down on a bench, and he started talking to my family and me about signing a scholar- ship with NC State." Jones flew back to Raleigh the next day and arranged for Devine to make an official visit to campus the following week. Joey and his father flew to Raleigh, and this time everything felt right. "I remember walking around campus and thinking to myself, this place is perfect," Devine said. "For the first time on a visit, I felt at home on a college campus. You have to remember, this was in the summer and there was nobody around. The ballpark hadn't been renovated yet so the facility wasn't very good. They'd finished seventh in a nine-team league the year before, so the team wasn't very good. But it just felt right. "It was just me walking around campus by myself and I fell in love with the place. I signed the scholarship and the rest is his- tory." History, indeed. The greatest reliever in program history helped lead NC State to three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NCAA Super Regional. The Wolf- pack won 122 games those three years, and Devine won or saved nearly 40 percent of them. He went 6-3 and saved a school-re- cord 14 games as a freshman in 2003. He notched 10 more saves as a sophomore. As a junior, with the draft looming, he went 5-3 with 12 saves, a 2.03 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. As stated earlier, Devine was Avent's hu- man victory cigar. During those three sea- sons, NC State lost just four games when leading after eight innings. Devine won't be pitching in his return to NC State, but his homecoming is one more good reason to look forward the 2017 col- lege baseball season. If he is half as good a coach as he was a pitcher, Avent just made a huge addition to his staff. ■ "NC State meant so much to me when I was there. When I look back, I enjoyed my three years playing baseball at NC State so much more than anything that happened in my professional career." ■ Joey Devine Devine's wife Erin and three children, Mason (far left), Henley (middle) and Hudson (far right) will be moving to a newly built home near Apex, N.C. PHOTO COURTESY JOEY DEVINE WHEREARETHEYNOW?

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