#1 North Carolina vs #4 LSU, 3:00 PM, ESPN
For the third time this postseason, UNC has its season on the line in an elimination game. The Tar Heels won the first two times they faced this scenario but going against the #4 seed LSU makes this perhaps the toughest test so far.
With so much riding on this game, Mike Fox is sending the pitcher who has clearly been the best this postseason in the person of freshman Trent Thornton. Thornton has worked primarily as the closer but done so with some extended outings. He went 6.2 innings against NC State in late May and did not allow a hit. In the NCAA Tournament, Thornton has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings pitched. He has been light years ahead of any of Tar Heel pitcher and rightfully gets the ball with the opportunity to extend the season at least one more game.
As good as Thornton has been and Fox hopes he will be in this game, the simplest solution remains for the bats to start producing. Granted, UNC facing Carlos Rodon is not the best gauge of how this team might hit in Omaha but if UNC has designs on getting out of the loser's bracket, production at the plate will have a huge role in that. There continues to be this "waiting" for Colin Moran to have a huge game. He has shown up in spots such as a triple against South Carolina with the Heels down 4-2 in Game 3. However, something on the order of 4-5 with multiple RBIs is going to be needed for UNC to survive.
While the postseason ride has been unpredictable what hasn't been is this team's fight in dire circumstances. They have proven time and time again their toughness in the face of tough odds. I would expect nothing less today.