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NCAA Regional: UNC 8 Towson 5

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

This game sort of unfolded in two parts. Through the first five innings, the Tar Heels were in complete control. Kent Emanuel gave up two hits but kept the order intact by picking both runners off. Meanwhile the 4-5-6 batters in the North Carolina lineup carried much of the load. Cody Stubbs smoked a home run to right field to open the scoring and Michael Russell went 3-5 with three RBIs. The Heels opened up a 5-0 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth and with Emanuel cruising the game appeared headed for a quick resolution.

That was not the case as Emanuel began to struggle somewhat with the placement of his pitches. That, in combination with Towson seeing Emanuel enough times, enabled the Tigers to get on the board. A run in the fifth and the sixth cut the lead to 5-2 with UNC extending it back to five runs in the top of the 8th on a Russell double. The runs ended up being critical as Emanuel's struggles led to a three run 8th for Towson. For whatever reason Mike Fox and Scott Forbes stayed with Emanuel despite him being over 100 pitches for the game and clearly not as effective. Perhaps the plan was to only have Trent Thornton pitch one inning but in the end, Emanuel was in the game too long. Thornton did come in to get the third out in the 8th with a pair of runners on and the go-ahead run at the plate.

UNC tacked on a run in the top of the ninth to make it a three run cushion. Thornton had little trouble closing out the the game with the help of Brian Holberton who threw out Towson's Richie Blosser at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double. Emanuel moved to 11-3 on the season and the save was Thornton's eighth save of his freshman campaign.

UNC now needs just one win to advance to the Super Regional. The Heels will face either Florida Atlantic or Towson at 6 PM on Sunday.