UNC will go with freshman Kent Emanuel(6-1, 2.88 ERA) in the regional opener versus Maine on Friday at 6:00 PM. Tar Heel ace Patrick Johnson(10-1, 2.56 ERA) is slated to start the second game.
This is a mild surprise since Johnson has been so dominant over the past few games. However having Johnson start the second game gives UNC a chance to put a stranglehold on the regional or a safety valve depending on what happens in the first game. If Emanuel gets the job done versus Maine then Johnson can come in against the winner of the FIU-James Madison game and put the Heels in a position of only needing one win to advance. If the Heels lose versus Maine then Mike Fox has his best pitcher going in an elimination game.
It is also important to remember that Kent Emanuel is not chopped liver. Yes, he is a freshman but that 2.88 ERA is nothing to sneeze at and on paper it makes sense to have Johnson facing the stronger opponent. Oh, it has been 10 innings since Johnson gave up a hit. It will be interesting to see how far that streak goes.