So up 1-0 in the series and 5-0 in Game 2, the wheels came off UNC as they surrendered 11 runs and eventually lost 11-7 on Sunday night to send the series to a decisive third game Monday.
It was close but horrible fielding, missed opportunities on offense, and a badly timed visit to the mound did UNC in against Oregon State as they lose the game and the national championship 3-2.
Tied 2-2 in the top of the eight UNC puts runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and then moved the runners on a fielder's choice to first. What followed was two strikeouts, the last negating a steal of home. In the bottom of the eight Daneil Bard(MLB 1st round draft pick) is cruising after giving up 2 runs in the fourth. With two outs and Andrew Miller(also a MLB 1st round draft pick) warmed up in the bullpen, UNC coach Mike Fox visits the mound and discussing removing Bard for Miller. After Bard pleads his case and stays in he walks Bill Rowe and then surrenders a single. Miller comes in and a routine grounder to second is thrown past the 1st baseman allowing the go ahead run to score.
As much as the error hurt the two spots where I thought the game was lost were (1) failing to score when the bases were loaded with one out in the eighth and more importantly (2) Mike Fox's ill timed visit to Bard at the mound. If there was one thing my Daddy taught me about baseball it is never disturb a pitcher who is getting the job done, regardless of the pitch count. Bard gave up two runs in the fourth and after that did not throw a single breaking pitch the rest of his stint. He threw 42 fast balls and was retiring the Beavers easily. My question for Fox would be what made you think he could not handle the one more batter? Why not let him keep going in the rythym of the the game and see what unfolds instead of walking out there, make him think he is done, and effectively killing his confidence? Maybe it unfolds the same way but I have a feeling that if Fox holds firm, Bard finishes the inning unscathed. I would have personally preferred to see Bard face Bill Rowe and if he failed to retired him then actually taking him out for Miller who then could stay in the game indefinitely considering he is a starter. Fox essentially out thought himself and as a result the Heels come in second.
As my Daddy would say, "I've passed this way before..."