Facing elimination in their second College World Series game, Carolina turned to their strong point, their pitching. (Also navy uniforms.) And freshman Kent Emanuel came through, throwing the first complete-game shutout since, well, Tar Heel Robert Woodward did so in 2006. By blanking the Longhorns, UNC advances to play the winner of Florida-Vanderbilt. That game was suspended for rain in the bottom of the sixth.
UNC's pitching has been strong in the postseason, which has bailed out a sputtering offense. The Heels stranded 16 men on base today, for the second straight game. They also had a disturbing propensity to hit into double plays, exiting the second, fourth, and seventh innings that way. Ben Bunting has been the brightest offensive spark; after struggling with his bat for much of the season, he went 4 of 5 including a ninth-inning RBI. This follows two hits and a walk in the opening game against Vanderbilt. In the last four games he's a combined 11 of 18 with 3 RBIs. Jacob Stallings was the engine behind the Heels other two runs, driving them in with a single in the third.
Today belongs to Emanuel, however, and a defense that backed him up with two double plays of their own, from the outfield no less. This should serve them well in their next game against either SEC team, who gave up 3 to 4 runs in their first games in Omaha and won on the strength of their bats. 2009 is the only year in UNC's recent history where they didn't make at least the semifinals, and I'd expect them to advance at least that far this season.