While the overarching goal of any team at the College World Series is to win the national title short of that you want to at least win one game. Showing up and going 0-2 is a place no team wants to go, especially one that is the overall #1 seed in the tournament. North Carolina avoided that and its first two game losing streak of the season with a 4-2 win over LSU, sending the Tigers home.
With the season in the balance, Mike Fox turned to UNC's best postseason pitcher in Trent Thornton. The freshman, normally UNC's closer, pitched 7 innings giving up only two runs. It wasn't necessarily Thornton's best outing but it was good enough, especially since he was the first UNC starter to get beyond the 3rd inning since the regional. After a walk to start the 8th inning, Thornton gave way to Chris McCue. After loading the bases McCue got out of trouble then worked around a one out walk in the 9th to get the save.
At the plate, the heart of the Tar Heel order got it working early with a two out single from Colin Moran followed by Brian Holberton,who was moved from 7th to 4th in the order, hitting a two run blast to right field. T.D. Ameritrade Park is a very tough place to hit home runs and Holberton crushed it to give the Heels a 2-0 lead. UNC extended it to 3-0 with a Moran single off the first base bag to score Landon Lassiter. The Tar Heels missed an opportunity to blow the game open with the bases loaded and no outs failed to get a hit or productive out. UNC tacked on a fourth run in the 7th on a Skye Bolt RBI single.
Now the Heels await the loser of the NC State-UCLA game. For North Carolina the best path to the championship series is for the Wolfpack to lose tonight which would result in a rematch between the two local rivals on Thursday. A game at that point should mean Carlos Rodon would be unavailable. Assuming the Heels can eliminate NC State they would need two wins against UCLA to get out of the bracket. UCLA does not hit the ball well as a team so that could be a cure for UNC's suspect starting pitching. If NC State wins, the Heels would need to beat UCLA then win a pair against the Pack which would almost certainly mean seeing Carlos Rodon again.
In other words, we are all Bruins tonight.