Kent Emanuel messed with Texas...a lot.
UNC still looked anemic on offense but Emanuel was dead on pitching a complete game shutout in leading UNC to a 3-0 win to stave off elimination and sending the Longhorns home. Next up the Heels will face the loser of the Florida-Vanderbilt game in an effort to stay alive.
Heading into this game, Mike Fox decided to shake up the batting order in hopes of jumpstarting the offense. CF Ben Bunting slid up to the #2 slot in the order and delivered in a huge way going 4-5 with an RBI and run scored. Jacob Stallings continues to deliver in key situations with a two RBI single in the third which followed more futility from the UNC batters in the first two innings. UNC ended up leaving nine on base in this game to go along with the 16 for Saturday versus Vanderbilt. For whatever reason, the Heels cannot get that key hit or find the other team making an outstanding defensive play. The LOB stat does not count runners erased via the double play which happened ot UNC more than once. Some of the poor hitting is owed to the Heels simply not swinging the bats well. The other aspect is the patience of the Tar Heel batters which might work against them. UNC batters are not particularly aggressive which explains why they draw so many walks in general. At the same time, they almost always layoff 3-0 pitches and more than one batter was called out looking. At one point during the Tar Heel Sports Network broadcast Adam Lucas pointed out UNC batters had struck out 12 times with runners in scoring position in the College Word Series. I have no idea how many of those happen without the bat being swung, but chances too many.
Not that the poor offense mattered with a freshman pitcher becoming the first rookie since 1993 to throw a complete game shutout in the College World Series. Emanuel gave up four hits, a walk and struck out five in 30 batters faced. The defense behind Emanuel was outstanding, especially with the win blowing in. Chaz Frank and Seth Baldwin both doubled a runners off base following fly outs to erase two potential rallies. Emanuel did the rest giving him three wins in the NCAA Tournament. So let us now sit back and toast the baseball draft rule which ensures we see Emanuel pitching two more seasons with the Heels barring injury or excessive parking tickets.
Despite being in the loser's bracket, UNC can get themselves on track in terms of the pitching rotation if they can win the next game. Chris Munnelly will likely start(he did throw in the bullpen during his game) and it should be noted closer Michael Morin has yet to see the field which could make him available for a longer outing seeing he hasn't pitched since last weekend versus Stanford. Surviving the next game means Patrick Johnson would be available on Friday and if the Heels can win then Emanuel would be a possibility although he would only have four days rest which is a bit short in college baseball. While this whole paragraph is putting multiple carts before various horses, it does not change the primary objective which is win the next game. If the Heels can do that, they pitching rotation comes back around in their favor. Which is to say, the Heels really need some big bats Wednesday night.