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NCAA Regional: LBSU 12 UNC 5


UNC's weather delayed elimination game with Long Beach State resumed on Monday with the Tar Heels trailing 5-4 in the 7th with one out and runners on first and second. From the resumption of play things did not go well for the Tar Heels. The Dirtbags executed a double steal to put the runners at 2nd and 3rd on Spencer Trayner's first pitch. After an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a force at home, LBSU's Michael Hill(who homered the prior day in the sixth inning) singled to make it a 7-4 game.  The Heels were able to get out without further damage but now facing a three run deficit.

In the bottom of the frame it appeared as though UNC might bounce back getting a two-out single from Alex Raburn who then scored on a Tyler Ramirez double. After a Tom Zengel single to put runners at the corner, Adam Pate hit for catch Korey Dunbar and struckout swinging. UNC repeated the process in the eighth with Parks Jordan being hit by a pitch but Skye Bolt had a potential hit taken away by a sliding catch from Richard Prigatano.

Then the wheels came off, well even more so than they had before. Benton Moss, who started Saturday's game and only pitched three innings, was in his third inning of work after relieving Trayner in the 7th. Moss was a little shaky and had trouble finding the strike zone at times. LBSU took advantage putting up five runs through a series of singles, stolen bases, bunts that didn't get fielded and hitting a batter who was attempting to bunt with a pitch. The result was an inning that spiraled out of control and created a hill too steep for UNC to climb.

For only the second time since 2005, UNC fails to advance to the Super Regional. The Heels end the season at 35-27 and with a 1-2 mark in the regional. By and large this was a young team that too often was a key hit/defensive play/pitch short of winning several close games. The margin of error simply wasn't there at times, especially on the defensive side of things. UNC also couldn't produce enough offense at times to offset some of the miscues in the field.

Looking towards next season here are UNC's key seniors and MLB draft eligible juniors.

Seniors: Parks Jordan and Tom Zengel

Juniors: Michael Russell, Benton Moss, Trevor Kelley and Chris McCue

Obviously Jordan and Zengel graduate. The only junior who is probably a lock to be drafted and leave is Russell. Moss and Kelley are possibilities but would likely depend on where they are taken if at all. McCue was injured most of the season and should return with the caveat being there is no way of knowing in what form. According to the message boards, Taylore Cherry and Landon Lassiter will be draft eligible however it's hard to see either going.

UNC should have the personnel to improve on this season and perhaps make a run at another College World Series appearance.