Long Beach State had all five of its hits in a six-run fourth and Andrew Rohrbach worked into the ninth for the second-seeded Dirtbags, who defeated No. 3 seed North Carolina 6-1 Friday afternoon at the University of Florida’s McKethan Stadium. Tom Zengel and Landon Lassiter had two hits each for the Tar Heels, who will face the loser of the Florida-College of Charleston game in an elimination contest Saturday at 1 p.m.
Rohrbach and Carolina starter Trent Thornton traded zeroes until the bottom of the fourth, when LBSU (33-24) scored all six of its runs. Garrett Hampson reached on an infield single to lead off the inning before moving to third on a wild pitch and a groundout to first. The next six Dirtbag hitters would reach against Thornton (7-4) and Trevor Kelley, and when the dust settled Long Beach led 6-0.
For Thornton, the 3.1-inning start was the shortest of his career and the first of 2014 that didn’t last at least five innings. Kelley allowed a two-run double Colton Vaughn to cap the scoring, but the six runs would prove to be plenty for Rohrbach (7-2).
The redshirt sophomore who threw just four innings in junior college in 2013 needed just 94 pitches to work into the ninth. Carolina (34-26) didn’t get a runner past second until the ninth, when Michael Russell led off with a double off the wall. Two batters later, Lassiter singled home pinch-runner Adam Pate to put the Tar Heels on the board.
Long Beach closer Ty Provencher got the final two outs after Lassiter’s RBI hit, with a Tyler Ramirez blast to the wall in right center ending it and sending the Tar Heels to the loser’s bracket.
Kelley, Henry Sisson and A.J. Bogucki retired the final 14 hitters they faced, as the Dirtbags had just one baserunner all afternoon outside the fourth inning.
UNC will send Benton Moss to the hill in Saturday’s elimination game against the loser of Friday night’s Florida-College of Charleston matchup. With a victory Saturday, Carolina would play again Sunday at 1.