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First pitch at newly renovated Durham Bulls Athletic Park is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the head coaches are both hoping for a little shorter game than last time the two clubs met at the ballpark – an 18-inning nail biter survived by the Tar Heels.
NC State Head Coach Elliott Avent says the rivalry means a lot to both schools, especially the players.
“It’s kind of a dead-even series that goes back and forth. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s fun for the players. They play against each other all the time in AAU, summers, and they know each other. It’s special to them,” Coach Avent says.
The aforementioned marathon baseball game checked in as the longest game in ACC Tournament history and drew 11,392 fans to the ballpark, marking the largest crowd ever to watch a college baseball game in the state of North Carolina.
UNC Head Coach Mike Fox says his program and the rest of the ACC is very fortunate to have such a storied venue like the Bulls ballpark to host games like this one.
“We’re very lucky in this area to have great college programs, but also to have this ballpark sitting right here at our disposal. The Durham Bulls have always been accommodating to us and our league and our programs,” Coach Fox says.
Due to odd scheduling conflicts, the Tar Heels were in danger of not meeting the Wolfpack at all in 2014, but Coach Avent says it would have been extremely disappointing for the two rivals not to square off on the diamond.
“It would be tragic probably; not tragic, but disappointing if the two teams didn’t play, especially after last year. So I called Mike and we were able to work it out,” Coach Avent says.
Coach Fox says the Tar Heels have been having some trouble navigating the crazy weather patterns thus far in the preseason training, but nonetheless, he says it’s an exciting time of the year.
“We’ve had our players back a week, and we’ve had a 25-degree day, a 50- degree day, a 70-degree day and a tornado. We’ve put the tarp on four times already. Right now, it’s just can we find a window to get out and get some work done? But it’s an exciting time now trying to put your team together a little bit,” Coach Fox says.
The Tar Heel baseball team gets its season underway Fri, Feb. 14 when it hosts College of Charleston at Boshamer Stadium.