UNC passes a big test and also exacts some revenge while completing a 4-0 week.
Last week's results: def. St. John's 18-5, Rice 2-1, California 11-5, Texas A&M 14-2
Record Last Week: 4-0
Record This Season: 10-0
Upcoming Schedule: 3/5 vs Davidson, 3/8-3/10 at Wake Forest
UNC scored runs in buckets for three easy wins but also won a squeaker over a top 15 Rice team to move to 10-0 on the season.
In the midweek game UNC scored all the runs on St. John's they should have last June on the way to an 18-5 win over the Red Storm. The Heels sent 13 men to the plate in the 2nd inning which also included three St. John's errors. UNC later followed up with a seven run sixth to stake an 18-2 lead. Four Tar Heels ended the game with at least two RBIs. Mike Fox used six pitchers including Luis Paula in the closer's role though a save was not needed in this game.
The weekend slate of games saw UNC leave the friendly confines of Boshamer Stadium for the first time this season. The Tar Heels traveled to Houston to participate in the Astros College Foundation Classic. The opening game saw UNC face its first true test of the young season with #12 Rice. With the Heels trailing 1-0 in the 7th Mike Zolk scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. In the top of the 9th, Chaz Frank would score on a very close play at the plate following a Rice wild pitch. Luis Paula would close the game capping off a four pitcher effort. Kent Emanuel pitched 7 innings giving up one run and worked out of trouble in the 7th to preserve the tie. Chris McCue got the win.
The last two games went pretty much the same way. The Heels scored 8 runs in the 4th against California and three more in the 5th for an 11-1 lead before winning 11-5. Freshman Landon Lassister had a big day going 4-6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Benton Moss went 5.2 IP giving up three runs, two of them earned for his third win of the season.
In the Sunday finale against Texas A&M, UNC scored in each of the first five innings to stake a 14-2 lead. The tournament mercy rule was invoked after seven innings ending the game. Lassiter was 2-2 with three runs scored and fellow rookie Skye Bolt also went 2-3. Hobbs Johnson returned to the rotation but was placed on a 70 pitch limit. He would throw 62 and go 2.1 innings before Chris Munnelly, Trevor Kelley and Reilly Hovis pitched 4.2 scoreless innings.
Ten games into the 56 game schedule, a pair of freshmen lead the team in batting. Skye Bolt is hitting a robust .472 and is tied for 2nd on the team with 10 RBIs. Landon Lassister is also batting over .400. Colin Moran is doing Colin Moran things with a steady .361 average, 17 runs and 10 RBIs. Cody Stubbs leads the team with 11 RBIs. UNC is a small ball team. There isn't much power there but the Heels choke the life out of a opposing team by racking up big innings.
On the pitching side, Kent Emanuel and Benton Moss are doing what most expected them to do. Hobbs Johnson should still fill out the weekend rotation once his pitch count is opened up. The bullpen, for now, is a bit of a mystery since Mike Fox is trying out different arms early in the season. Chris Munnelly and Chris McCue had sent the most work and been relatively solid. Munnelly in particular had five strikeouts in just 2.2 innings of work on Sunday but also walked four. Luis Paula is likely going to be the closer because he does have a very lively fast ball that registers in the low to mid 90s. It will take a few more games like the one versus Rice to really get a feel for who will be the reliable arms out of the pen.
UNC gets a midweek game with Davidson before opening ACC play with a trip to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest.