The North Carolina Tar Heels reached the end of their season Wednesday evening in Omaha in a 11-6 loss to Oregon State. This is what Head Coach Mike Fox had to say about the team after their final game of the season:
Well, the end of the season, it stinks. And it’s especially hard when you have really such a great group of kids. Probably not one of our most talented teams that we’ve had at UNC, but perhaps our most unselfish, toughest, grittiest- just determined to get here.
This was probably the best description of the character of this team. The Diamond Heels were the last team standing from the ACC and this season will certainly go down as one to remember.
Carolina finished the season 44-20, including a 22-8 conference record. The Tar Heels were atop the league at the end of the regular season and earned the number one seed in the ACC Tournament.
A sluggish start to the season gave fans pause as conference play rolled around. After starting the season 7-7, a sweep of Pitt in Carolina’s home conference opener jumpstarted the Heels. The effort was good enough to earn Mike Fox his first ACC Coach of the Year award after nearly 900 wins, seven division titles, and seven College World Series appearances at UNC.
Third baseman Kyle Datres earned First-Team All-ACC honors and was named as a Third Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Michael Busch and Brandon Riley were both named to the All-ACC Second Team, while Ike Freeman earned Third-Team All-ACC honors.
Here are the final individual leaders for the Heels at the close of the season:
- Batting average: .345 - Kyle Datres (2nd in ACC)
- Slugging percentage: .521 - Michael Busch
- Home runs: 13 - Michael Busch
- RBIs: 63 - Michael Busch (3rd in ACC)
- Hits: 91 - Kyle Datres (2nd in ACC)
- Runs: 70 - Michael Busch (2nd in ACC)
- On-base percentage: .465 - Michael Busch (4th in ACC)
- ERA: 1.69 - Ben Casparius (minimum 10 innings pitched) (T-8th in ACC)
- Strikeouts: 86 - Cooper Criswell
- Innings pitched: 82.2 - Austin Bergner
- Wins: 7 - Caden O’Brien (7-0) and Austin Bergner (7-3) (T-7th in ACC)
- Saves: 6 - Josh Hiatt (T-8th in ACC)
The top offensive game for the Tar Heels came against Houston in the Chapel Hill Regional when the Heels scored 19 runs to advance to the Super Regional. Five of those runs came from Datres, an individual season high.
That game versus Houston matched their high mark for hits in a single game that season. Carolina also had 18 hits against Maryland in March.
Another offensive high was tied against Houston. Carolina drove in 16 runs in games versus Houston, Florida State, and Liberty.
Busch had the only multi-home run game of the season when he hit two taters against Florida State in March. In that same game, he set the season high for walks with four. Busch also had an impressive 34-game reached base streak, 11 more than the next Tar Heel.
Riley had 18 multi-RBI games, one more than Busch, the team’s total RBI leader.
Datres led the team with 29 multi-hit games. He also paced the team with a magnificent 18-game hitting streak.
On the mound, Rodney Hutchinson was the only pitcher with a complete game. He went nine innings versus NC A&T in March.
Criswell struck out 13 versus Miami in April, the season high for an individual. The Heels collectively fanned 18 batters in the 15-inning marathon against Wake Forest in March.
Congratulations to the 2018 North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team on a great season.