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Monday Baseball Report(5/7)

Last Week’s Results: Defeated Winthrop 2-0, swept Boston College
Record Last Week: 4-0
Overall Record: 34-13
ACC Record: 16-8 1st place in Coastal Division
Upcoming Schedule: 5/8 vs UNC Wilmington, 5/9 at ECU, 5/11-5/13 at Duke

Colin Moran returns. There was much rejoicing in Chapel Hill.

The Heels get Moran back in the lineup and he does not disappoint. The All-American third baseman went 6-15 in four games with a home run and four RBIs. Not a bad way to return and neither is going 4-0 with the Heels keeping a firm grip on first place in the ACC Coastal Division.

During the midweek game, UNC got a shutout by committee and Moran driving in both runs for the 2-0 win over Winthrop. UNC only managed five hits in the game with two of them belonging to Moran and resulting in the only runs for the game.

Over the weekend, the Heels hosted Boston College and on Friday night crushed in Eagles 15-1. Chaz Frank and Cody Stubbs each had five RBI with the latter hitting a three run homer in the Heels' eight run second. Kent Emanuel collected his sixth win in six shutout innings. Emanuel had suffered from a lack of run support in recent outings but got it in spades in this start. Mike Fox wisely pulled Emanuel after 91 pitches since the game was well in hand.

In the second game of the series, UNC needed to rally from down three runs after a lengthy rain delay to clinch the series 6-5. Boston College scored four runs off Benton Moss and RC Orlan in the first four innings with UNC tacking on a run in the second and fourth for a 5-2 deciti.. Then came the severe weather which results in a rain delay of over four and a half hours. Once play resumed at 8:30 PM, the Heels got three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. Brian Holberton plated Tommy Coyle with an RBI single in the seventh to gives the Heels the lead for good. Michael Morin came in for the save.

The Sunday game proved to be much more like a normal baseball game with the Heels completing the sweep on the strength of a 4-1 win. Hobbs Johnson continues to emerge as a potential weekend starter giving up two runs in 5.2 innings of work. His control as a tad shaky as he did surrender five walks but overall Johnson has been putting in some solid innings at a time when Chris Munnelly has struggled a bit. The Heels got out to a 3-0 lead and held the Eagles to just three hits. Morin pitched a scoreless ninth for his 13th save of the season which is fourth most in UNC history for saves in a season.

With UNC facing the final nine games of the season, questions begin to abound as to postseason prediction. Tar Heel Monthly's Adam Lucas runs down the outlook.

The ramifications: With two ACC series to play, Carolina has a two-game lead on Virginia in the Coastal Division, and the Tar Heels also hold the tiebreaker over the Cavaliers (by virtue of the sweep in Charlottesville). In the league, Carolina closes at Duke and hosts Virginia Tech, while Virginia hosts Georgia Tech and then travels to Maryland. Winning the division carries extra importance this year because the Coastal champion avoids being paired with Atlantic champion Florida State and can't see the red-hot Seminoles until the ACC tournament championship game. Beyond the conference race, Carolina remains in the discussion for a national seed. As of Sunday morning, says the Tar Heels need to finish 7-2 to remain in the RPI top eight. South Carolina, which took two of three from Arkansas this weekend, is making a strong push for a national seed, which means whichever of Carolina or NC State does not get a national seed is a strong possibility to have to play in Columbia in the super-regionals--a fate the Tar Heels would very much like to avoid. Keep an eye on this week's Wednesday matchup in Greenville, as East Carolina is rated 22nd in the current RPI, and a road victory in what is sure to be a hostile environment would be a solid RPI booster.

Avoiding Columbia is desirable under any circumstances but especially in the NCAA Tournament. A 7-2 mark over the final nine games is very doable since the Heels face Duke and Virginia Tech who both have losing record in ACC play. As noted by Lucas, ECU presents the biggest challenge for the Heels with UNC Wilmington and UNC Asheville probably wins.