UNC Slugger Ackley Gets Omaha Hall of Fame Nod

Dustin Ackley will become the first Tar Heel baseball player inducted into the Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame in the second ever class.

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Established in 2013 to celebrate college baseball’s storied history, it’s fitting it didn’t take long for a Carolina player to join the elite ranks. Head Coach Mike Fox’s Tar Heels seemingly make Omaha, the site of the College World Series, their second home.

Ackley will be joined in the 2014 class by Steve Arlin from Ohio State, Will Clark from Mississippi State and Mark Kotsay from Cal State Fullerton.

Inductees were selected because of their outstanding contributions to college baseball with a special interest in the performances at the game’s biggest stage: in Omaha.

It must have been a rather easy decision for the former players and coaches who were voting on the honorees as Carolina’s Ackley is one of the best hitters in ACC history and holds the College World Series career record with 28 hits.

In addition, the lefty boasted an incredible .412 batting average in his Omaha career. Ackley, the first player ever to be named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team on three separate occasions, always saved his best stuff for college baseball’s cathedral.

The first baseman performed at the highest level for the Diamond Heels from 2007-09, finishing his UNC career as the school’s all-time batting average leader. He also led the way in hits, runs and total bases.

With those lofty statistics, it’s no surprise Ackley’s experienced success in the professional ranks. He’s currently starting in the outfield for the Seattle Mariners.

Ackley and the rest of the 2014 inductees will be recognized at the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby on July 3 and be featured on ESPN’s live broadcast.

It’s a fitting tribute for one of the Tar Heels’ very best.


Heels Will Face Challenge In South Carolina

CHAPEL HILL – The road to Omaha continues Friday for Tar Heel baseball, as UNC welcomes the Gamecocks of South Carolina for a best-of-three Super Regional, with a trip to the College World Series on the line.

While UNC struggled to advance beyond its regional last weekend, the Gamecocks rolled through their own region—beating Saint Louis once and Liberty twice, by a combined score of 32-10. South Carolina’s had quite a bit of recent success in the NCAA tournament, reaching the College World Series in each of the last three years and winning it all in 2010 and 2011.

This year, the Gamecocks are 42-18 in Chad Holbrook’s first year as head coach. Holbrook’s a familiar name for Tar Heel fans: he played at UNC in the early 1990s and served as assistant coach from 1994 to 2008 before moving down to Columbia.

Key players for South Carolina include senior DH LB Danzler, who leads the team with a .322 batting average and 15 home runs, and sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake—yep, that’s his name—who’s hitting .313 with 10 homers. On the mound, the Gamecocks’ top five pitchers are all lefties—led by starters Jordan Montgomery, 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA, and Nolan Belcher, 7-5 with a 2.25 ERA. Closer Tyler Webb has been dominant: 3-2 with a 1.36 ERA, 17 saves, and 60 strikeouts in less than 40 innings of work.

South Carolina’s season stats

Still, the Tar Heels are the superior team—at least on paper—with a .310 team batting average to the Gamecocks’ .284, and a 2.59 team ERA against South Carolina’s 3.01. But as UNC head coach Mike Fox has been fond of saying all year, the stats matter little once the teams take the field.

North Carolina’s season stats

Game one of the series begins on Friday at 1:00 p.m. in Boshamer Stadium, with game two set for Saturday at noon and the deciding game three—if necessary—on Sunday at 1:00. WCHL will broadcast the entire series; the winner will move on to the College World Series, where their first opponent will be either Rice or NC State.

UNC and South Carolina have not met since the 2007 NCAA Super Regional; the Tar Heels won that series to advance to Omaha.