It wasn't conventional but it got the job done. UNC managed to get by after losing Michael Russell in the second inning followed by a three hour rain delay to hand the #2 national seed Florida a 5-2 season ending loss on the Gators' home field.
UNC came out offensively it way they did against Virginia last weekend. UNC managed to get runners in scoring position in the first two innings but couldn't scratch a run across. The second inning was costly for more than just three runners left on base. Tar Heels shortstop Michael Russell took a 3-0 pitch in his helmet causing the junior to crumpled to the ground. The contact of the helmet against his forehead opened up a nasty cut which bled profusely and forced Russell to the locker room for stitches. A ten minute delay occurred to see if perhaps Russell could return but ultimately he didn't. The HBP on Russell loaded the bases but Parks Jordan failed to capitalize. Russell ended up with several stitches and did return to the dugout, bloody jersey and all.
The Tar Heels went back to work in the third inning getting both Landon Lassiter and Skye Bolt on with no outs and Wood Myers at the plate. That's when the heavens opened up sending the teams to their respective locker rooms for what ended up being a lengthy delay. When action resumed, UNC strung together four one out hits, including doubles from Tyler Ramirez and Adam Pate to put the Heels up 5-0.
The weather delay meant Benton Moss' day was done. The Tar Heel starter went just three innings giving up one hit, three walks and striking out a pair. Reilly Hovis relieved Moss and was very effective throwing eighty pitches and giving up two runs in four innings of work. Spencer Trayner came on for the six out save and securing UNC another day in sunny(?) Florida.
Now the Heels await the loser of the day's second game between Long Beach State and College of Charleston.The best scenario is probably to face LBSU in an elimination game and hope for two wins against Charleston. This is still a huge task ahead but if the Heels can have some offensive outbursts like the one following today's rain delay, it would be a nice boost for the odds of advancing.
Side note: Florida was the second national seed of the day to lose an elimination game and exit the tournament without a win. Florida State was the other one. If you think that two national seeds being knocked out without a win is a rare event, it is.
A national seed going 0-2 had only happened three times in history. Happened twice this weekend - with FSU and UF.— Corey Clark/TDO.com (@Corey_Clark) May 31, 2014