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Heels Win Epic But Otherwise Meaningless Game

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Meaningless for UNC in terms of the ACC Tournament but not for the purpose of spoiling NC State's chance at making the championship game.

When I was growing up I played Bases Loaded II on the old eight bit Nintentdo. One of the teams you played against had a pitcher which was very tough to hit. He threw the ball in an odd location and hits were far and few in between. However the computer was rigged that if a pitch threw four straight balls it would go to the bullpen. So the way you beat this team was wait out the pitcher you couldn't hit for one you could.

That was what UNC did versus NC State. The Pack's Carlos Rodon lived up to his ACC Pitcher of the Year accolade with nine innings of dominant pitching. UNC managed four hits and two walks in that span but struck out 12 times. However he couldn't pitch forever. The Tar Heel pitchers answered Rodon every step of the way first with Benton Moss, then Hobbs Johnson who struggled a bit before Luis Paula came in to get a huge strikeout in the bottom of the seventh. After that it was Michael Morin who retired 14 straight batters after giving up a single to start the 8th. Morin erased that one runner with a double play and the Pack never saw the basebpaths after that. While it was an unusually long outing for Morin, he had not pitched since last weekend and was very efficient in getting his sixth win of the season. The Tar Heel pitchers managed to outlast Rodon and gave the UNC bats a chance against the NCSU bullpen.

And that they did. The Heels broke the game open in the 12th with a leadoff single by Morin to break a 1-14 hitting slump. Jacob Stalling attempted to bunt but could not get one down and instead singled to move up Moran. Cody Stubbs showed bunt four times and four times got a ball to load the bases. Adam Griffin, Mike Zolk and Parks Jordan all singled in succession to make it 3-0. Chaz Frank's sac fly made it 4-0 which was more than enough for Morin who got three flyouts to end the game.

UNC finishes 2-1 in Pool B and tied with Miami but the Canes advance on the basis of the head-to-head result. While UNC's national seed status was likely locked coming into this game, UNC only strengthened their case and who knows may have moved them up a little. UNC's was sixth in the last RPI and got wins over #10 NC State and #34 Wake Forest with a loss to #13 Miami. That's is about as good as UNC could hope short of winning the title. Now the Heels get six days to rest before hosting a regional.

The Selection Show for the NCAA Baseball Tournament will be at noon on Monday, May 28th and be televised on ESPNU.