When you think about the 2000’s era of North Carolina Tar Heel baseball, the first player to come to mind is Dustin Ackley. Ackley wasn’t just one of the best players of that era, but he is arguably one of the best players in program history.
During his three years in Chapel Hill, Ackley hit over .400 for his career while shattering multiple school records on his way to leading North Carolina to three straight College World Series appearances. His .412 career batting average is still second in ACC history.
But Ackley wasn’t just great in the regular season. He performed great under the brightest lights during the College World Series. Ackley recorded 28 hits, which is tied for the most all time. Even though the Tar Heels never won the national title in that run, it was still the golden age of North Carolina baseball, and we are starting to see the program return to that level.
Because there is no NCAA Tournament and College World Series this year, ESPN decided to celebrate one of the most intriguing postseason tournaments in its own fashion: By putting together an all-time college baseball team.
Ackley’s competition is stiff at first base. He’s going up against Lance Berkman, Frank Thomas, Andrew Vaughan, and a few other college baseball greats, but Ackley’s resume will hold up against any of them.
As far as his accolades, Ackley was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year, the first three-time All-American in UNC history, the only player in college baseball history to be named to the CWS All-Tournament team three times, and the career record holder for UNC in hits, average, total bases and runs.
ESPN has been showing some of Ackley and the other candidates best games in college, which for Ackley was his five-hit game against Southern Mississippi in the 2009 College World Series.
As somebody who was coming up as a kid in that time, Ackley was my favorite Tar Heel, no matter the sport, and was arguably the best Tar Heel of the entire decade. Despite not having a postseason this year, re-living some of his best moments was awesome.
Make sure you vote for Ackley on the all-time college baseball team and leave some of your favorite of him down in the comments.