Diamond Heels Drop CWS Opener To NCSU, 8-1

Photo: Courtesy Go Heels

OMAHA, NEB. – N.C. State’s Carlos Rodon threw a complete game to lead the Wolfpack past the Tar Heels, 8-1, Sunday in Carolina’s College World Series opener in Omaha, Nebraska. With the loss, UNC goes to the elimination game Tuesday, awaiting the loser of LSU-UCLA.

Rodon, considered by many to be the likely first pick in next year’s MLB draft, scattered five hits, struck out eight, and held the No. 1 national seed hitless into the fifth inning.

“You can see his dominance today and tell just how good that kid is. He completely dominated us. I’m proud of our team for how we played there at the end, but it was too little, too late. But, he is really good, and was too good for us today,” said UNC Head Coach Mike Fox.

Chaz Frank scored off a double by Landon Lassiter in the ninth, but Rodon ended the threat by forcing two infield ground-outs to end the game.

Hear the call of Lassiter’s RBI double:

Kent Emanuel started for UNC (57-11), and continued his post-season problems, allowing a lead-off walk to Trea Turner in the first inning. Turner eventually scored on a Tarran Senay single, the Wolfpack (50-14) up 1-0.

After retiring the Wolfpack in the second inning, Emanuel’s troubles continued in the third, giving up five runs.

UNC made the pitching change with two outs, and brought-in Chris McCue. Emanuel threw for 2 2 /3 innings, including 64 pitches and two strikeouts.

“I’m just not making the pitches I need to. It’s as simple as that,” Emanuel said. “In the big spots, like against Senay in the first inning, I wanted to go away and I did. I just needed a couple more inches to get the swing and miss, rather than him being able to get the cap on it. It just seems to be stuff like that and not being able to execute in the big spots.”

Carolina finished the game using eight pitchers, tying the CWS record for most pitchers used in a contest. The UNC bullpen was fairly effective, and only allowed two more runs in the ninth inning.

The bright spots for the Heels included Brian Holberton, who had two hits, and McCue, who pitched 2 1/3 innings, struck out three, and stopped the N.C. State scoring run in the third inning. It was the right-hander’s seventh scoreless relief appearance in his last eight outings.

UNC head coach Mike Fox, though going deep into the bullpen, saved reliever Trent Thornton for possible use in Tuesday’s elimination game, set for 3 p.m.

97.9 FM WCHL and Chapelboro.com will be broadcasting and live-streaming all of the action.


Omaha-Bound Heels Def. Gamecocks, 5-4

Photo Courtesy: Go Heels

CHAPEL HILL – UNC rallied with a three-run sixth inning Tuesday to edge South Carolina, 5-4, and earn a trip to the College World Series for the sixth time in the last eight years. By surviving the Super Regional, the top-seeded Tar Heels will travel halfway across the country to face rival N.C. State this Sunday at 3 p.m. in Omaha.

“I just can’t remember some of the other ways we got there [to the College World Series].  This one is sweet. This one is very special,” UNC Head Coach Mike Fox said. “It doesn’t really matter how you get there. Baseball is a tough game and you never know how it will go. At the end of that day, we are going. That is the most important thing.”

It was Colin Moran’s RBI triple that sparked the comeback to give the Heels the victory, scoring Landon Lassiter to cut the South Carolina lead to 4-3.

A throwing error by Gamecock pitcher Adam Westmoreland allowed Moran to score the tying run.

Westmoreland, who had hit Skye Bolt with a pitch, then walked catcher Brian Holberton and second baseman Mike Zolk to load the bases. He was replaced by lefty Tyler Webb, who took left fielder Parks Jordan to a full count before walking him on an inside pitch to force in Bolt with what proved to be the winning run.

The Tar Heels shut out the Gamecocks in their last three at bats, with lefty ace Kent Emanuel coming in to nail down the save by getting the last two outs in the ninth on just two pitches.

“It didn’t matter if I would have given up 20 runs or thrown a perfect game. It’s always going to be the same. I’m there to compete against the batter and get him out,” Emanuel said. “It really doesn’t factor in to how I pitch, what happens before.”

Trent Thornton (11-1) notched the win, allowing one earned run over 4 2/3 innings after relieving starter Benton Moss in the third. None of UNC’s three starters over the weekend made it through three full innings.

UNC faced freshman lefty Jack Wynkoop, who entered the game with a 7-3 record and 2.92 ERA in 61.2 innings for the Gamecocks. Westmoreland went 3 1/3 innings but sealed his own fate as the loser with his errant throw and by hitting Bolt in the sixth.

South Carolina took an early lead with a run in the second, but Holberton blasted a two-run homer over the right field fence in the bottom of the second.

The Gamecocks regained the lead in the fifth when Tar Heel centerfielder Chaz Frank dropped a fly ball, allowing two runs to score.

“I just told them to relax. It’s not a big deal,” Thornton said about how how he maintained his composure following the error. “We knew we would comeback. Everybody wanted to win it for Chaz, especially after that play.”

The visitors from the Southeastern Conference added a single run in the top half of the sixth, setting up the dramatic rally to follow.

After throwing 88 pitches, Thornton was relieved by Chris McCue in the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, after McCue walked the potential tying run, Emanuel got DH LB Dantzler to fly out to left on the first pitch and catcher Grayson Greiner to force the runner at second on his next pitch. Emanuel, who has now thrown 240 pitches in the NCAA tournament, has at least four days rest before his first start in the 2013 College World Series.

Carolina improved to 57-10 while the Gamecocks finish the season at 43-20. The Tar Heels are expected to face N.C. State ace lefthander Carlos Rodon in their CWS opener Sunday at 3 p.m.


Hear the full-press conference:


Catching Up With UNC Baseball’s Skye Bolt

CHAPEL HILL – UNC baseball is gearing up for the NCAA tournament—play begins this Friday for the Heels in Chapel Hill.

And for the first time ever, Carolina earned the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament—coming a day after the Heels claimed the ACC Championship in dramatic fashion.

Only a freshman, outfielder Skye Bolt is taking it all in.

“It was one heck of a ride. It really was. We came into the tournament confident,” Bolt said. “We started out with a big blow against Miami and put up ten runs there. We got back to that swagger that we had at the beginning of the season.”

The Diamond Heels suffered two consecutive series losses against Virginia and Georgia Tech earlier this month.

“It’s part of any season. You have your highs and your lows. Fortunately for us, ours came against two of the top teams in the nation,” Bolt said.

Bolt himself had to battle back from a low point in his season. During play against Virginia Tech in April, he fractured his right foot after fouling a ball off it. He missed 17 games during the stretch, returning to play against Appalachian State. And Bolt says he’s almost back to where he was pre-injury.

“I had to put myself in the game before I got back in it. That’s what you have to do—is put yourself into your teammate’s spots and put yourself in their situations.”

Bolt says the winning the ACC Championship this past weekend wasn’t just about the big names on the team stepping up.

“We fought all the way through. Pitching has always been our preaching and the performance of eight of our guys made the difference,” he said. “A freshman came of the bench that hadn’t seen many innings this whole season. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing here talking about how great of a weekend it was and how fun it was.”

The Tar Heels begin NCAA tournament play on Friday at 6:00, in Boshamer Stadium against No. 4 seed Canisius.

You can hear that game, and all of Carolina’s games throughout the weekend, live on 97.9 FM WCHL. It will also be streaming live at Chapelboro.com.


UNC Baseball’s Skye Bolt Out Indefinitely

CHAPEL HILL – Freshman outfielder Skye Bolt fractured his right foot against Virginia Tech Friday night. UNC says he will be out indefinitely.

Bolt fractured his second metatarsal after fouling a ball off his foot. Dr. Alex Creighton will evaluate Bolt on Monday; a more definitive timetable for his recovery will be known then.

The freshman posted a .392 average on the year with 10 doubles, six home runs and a team-high .648 slugging percentage in 34 games played.

Tar Heel Baseball Rallies In Ninth and Tenth For Win

CHAPEL HILL – Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Tar Heel baseballteam rallied for the tying run in the ninth and the winning run in the tenth to defeat the VCU Rams 3-2.

1B Cody Stubbs’ walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth drove in DH Landon Lassiterjust one inning after SS Michael Russell’s sacrifice fly drove in freshman RF Skye Bolt to tie the score.

Despite the low-scoring affair, Carolina got on base throughout the game while struggling with runners in scoring position. The Heels left the bases loaded in the 3rd, 4th and 7th inning.

UNC starter Hobbs Johnson had a solid outing, giving up two earned in five innings, but was in line for the loss before UNC’s late game heroics.

The bullpen also did its part in the effort, with Chris MunnellyTate Parrish, and Trevor Kelley combining to give up just one hit in their five innings of relief.

Chris McCue got the final five outs to earn the win.

With the win, the Tar Heels improve to 19-1, which is the programs’ second best start through 20 games.


UNC Baseball Continues Winning Ways In Rout Of Gardner-Webb

CHAPEL HILL -Freshman starting pitcher Trent Thornton allowed just 1 hit in 7 and 2/3 innings to help lead No. 1 UNC men’s baseball team to a dominating 12-0 victory against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Thornton took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, but Gardner-Webb third basemen Henry Rundio singled to right, breaking up the no-hitter. He struck out 8 in the effort, improving to 3-0 on the season.

Had Thornton managed a no-no, it would’ve been the Tar Heels’ first since 1978.

The heart of the order paced the Tar Heels’ offense, with the three, four and five hitters combining to score six runs and drive in five. Junior 3B Colin Moran scored 2 runs, freshman RF Skye Bolt went 2 for 4 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs while senior 1B Cody Stubbsdrove in 3 and scored twice.

Gardner-Webb committed six errors in the game, leading to 8 unearned UNC runs.

Gardner-Webb defeated the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill last season.

With the win, UNC remains perfect on the season at 15-0, while Gardner-Webb falls to 11-4.

The Tar Heels will return to the diamond Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. against the High Point Panthers. You can listen to the game live right here on WCHL.