On a work trip, I managed to miss almost the entire ACC Tournament, most infuriatingly being unable to see the walk-off suicide squeeze craziness against e of the cons of going on a road trip with three female work colleagues during Memorial Day Weekend was that I missed a lot of the ACC Baseball Tournament, including Carolina’s walk off suicide squeeze attempt-to-hit-by-pitch. Sunday morning, though, I managed to watch the entire championship game against Georgia Tech in my hotel room.
We all know the ending: Carolina pounded the Yellow Jackets with home run after home run to win the ACC Championship. That got them the #14 National seed and the right to host a Regional in the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels dominated Tennessee, Liberty, and UNC Wilmington as they swept the regional and now have a chance to go to Omaha again with one more win against Auburn, a game Lancelotti will likely feature heavily in.
Throughout the entire season this has been a fun team to watch. One stretch of the ACC Championship game that highlighted that was when sophomore pitcher Joey Lancellotti came on in relief and was absolutely dominant. He plowed through the Georgia Tech lineup like a John Deere in a corn field in Omaha. He was clearly pretty darn excited about it too; it was fun to watch how much being in that moment meant to him. He was like a 5’11 205-pound little kid on the playground, and he’s been having this kind of fun all season
What stood out to me in that fateful championship, however, was what happened in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Lancellotti allowed a run, bringing the score to 10-2, and Tech had runners on first and second bases. Coach Fox decided to pull Lancellotti after several incredible innings of relief.
No athlete ever wants to be taken out of the game, but it’s different for pitchers. It’s especially different when you’re one out away from closing out a game. Just like Lancellotti’s emotion’s were on full display strikeout after strikeout, everyone watching the game could tell that he was disappointed not to have the opportunity to get that last out. An assistant coach pulled him aside in the dugout and talked about the moment and how well he had pitched that day. All the home runs certainly helped, but Lancellotti being able to shut down a dangerous Georgia Tech offense gave the Yellow Jackets no chance to win that game.
As a pitcher he handled the pressure incredibly well and was dominant throughout, and as a competitor he dealt with the adversity of being taken out of the game with poise not a lot of young players have. The fact that his pitching performance wasn’t the most impressive part of his outing really speaks a lot to him.
He’s also a heck of a baseball player, and just one reason this team is so fun to watch. Here’s hoping they can ride the rest of the season out as long as possible.