It wasn't the sharpest of performances but it got the job done. Ben Bunting had three hits and Seth Baldwin's two run home run in the seventh ended up being hugely important as Patrick Johnson and Michael Morin combined to hold Stanford to a pair of runs giving UNC a 5-2 win the the Super Regional opening game. With a win on Saturday the Diamond Heels would advance to their fifth College World Series in six seasons.
UNC opened up a 1-0 lead in the 2nd on an RBI single from Ben Bunting to score Jesse Wierzbicki from third following a throwing error by the Cardinal 3B Stephen Piscotty(who had two on the day and almost a third at one point.) After that both Johnson and Stanford pitcher Mark Appel settled down with Appel getting huge help from his defense. UNC hit into three double plays including one with the bases loaded in the 5th. Clinging to a 1-0 lead and Johnson's pitch count climbing, Seth Baldwin stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and hit a two run homer to extend the Tar Heel lead to 3-0.
Those runs proved to be huge as Stanford got on the board in the top of the 8th in a two out rally that saw Johnson give up his first run since May 13th. Johnson retired the first two batters in the 8th but gave up a single on his 127th pitch of the day. Mike Fox brought in Michael Morin who gave up a double and single to scored a pair of runs before getting fly out to end the inning. The Heels immediately got both runs back in the bottom of the inning on a bases loaded walk drawn by Baldwin and a sac fly from Chaz Frank. Morin retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.
Overall it was a gutty win on a day the Tar Heel ace was not as dominant as he has been lately. That was to be expected at one point but credit to the Heels for hanging tough and responding to Stanford's rally in the 8th with one of their own.
A return trip to Omaha is only one win away.