Things didn’t go well at all for the Diamond Heels on Monday in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the Chapel Hill Super Regional. Joey Lancellotti, who has primarily worked out of the bullpen this season, got the start for Mike Fox after struggling in relief in Game 1 of the series against Auburn.
Whatever the reason behind starting Lancellotti, it didn’t work. At all. The reliever was unable to throw strikes right from the jump as he walked each of the first four batters he faced before being pulled. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Auburn scored 13 runs in the top of the first to basically cement their victory before the Tar Heels ever had a chance to bat. They batted around twice in an inning that required four different UNC pitchers to take the mound.
Will Sandy was by far the most effective pitcher on the day for Carolina. He worked 5.2 innings and only allowed one earned run. His strong outing was enough to give the team’s bats a chance to catch up, but they couldn’t quite make it all the way back. They ultimately lost the game 14-7.
Carolina had relied heavily on the bullpen trio of Lancellotti, Hansen Butler, and Austin Love to get them to this point. Of those, only Love was effective during the Super Regionals. Love’s performance on Sunday was enough to force a decisive Game 3 in the series, but the struggles of his teammates just proved to be too much to overcome, even with the team’s offense clicking in a big way.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall with the bullpen after the meltdown in Game 1 that saw Carolina blow a late lead. It certainly proved to be a weak point in the final three games of the season. Maybe they were just out of gas or it was very bad coincidental timing. Whatever it was, it’s unfortunate that the season had to end on such a sour note.