In Saturday’s elimination game, the Tar Heels managed to get two men on base in each of the first three innings.
And in each of those innings, they grounded into double plays.
Luckily, one of those double plays at least brought home a run thanks to Mac Horvath, giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead that they would cling to until the bottom of the seventh inning. In all of the other situations, Carolina had managed to get two players on base before the second out, and then Wright State pitcher Luke Stofel would pitch out of the jam. In the seventh, it looked easier for Stofel as it took until the second out for Carolina to get the second man on.
This brought up Horvath again. He had been 0-7 so far in the Terre Haute regional, with only the one RBI to show for his work. In a lineup that’s still missing Vance Honeycutt, this power outage had gone critical at the wrong time. This was clearly going to be Carolina’s best chance to extend the lead and reward starter Max Carlson who had thrown 6 2⁄3 innings of shutout baseball.
After going down 0-2 to Stofel, Horvath powered a ball against the wind and over the left field wall to clear the bases. The 1-0 lead had become 4-0, and the Carolina bullpen was able to shut the door to keep the Tar Heels alive for another day.
The Elimination game saw two starters give it all for their squads, both going 6 2⁄3 innings, and both managing to frustrate what had been some powerful offenses. Wright State came into the game leading the Horizon League in offense, and was one out away from going into the 9th with a lead on Friday against the top regional seed Sycamores. That power was evident in the third inning where it looked like Wright State may take a 2-1 lead, except the exceptional UNC defense-which has produced multiple web gems this season-shined bright again.
It was an outstanding pitching performance on the whole for Carolina, as after the strong work by Colson, Dalton Pence was able to retire the next seven straight Raiders. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, added an important run in the bottom of the 8th to make the final 5-0, sending the Raiders home from the NCAA Baseball Championships.
While the offense was slow to come around, the efficiency of the pitching was huge for Carolina as they now face the daunting task of going for two wins in a row on Sunday plus a win on Monday to be able to head to the Super Regionals. One would think only Colson wouldn’t be available for today’s games, and everyone else but Pence will be on at least one day’s rest for the gauntlet to come.
The Tar Heels will start today with a rematch against Iowa, losers of the winner’s bracket matchup on Saturday night. The winner of that game will go on to face host Indiana State. Any loss by the Tar Heels ends their season, two wins means that the Tar Heels and the Sycamores will play on Monday Night for the right to go to the Super Regionals.
The first game is at noon, with the winner headed on to the 6 PM showdown. Here’s how to catch the action:
- Time: Noon ET, then 6 PM should the Tar Heels win game 1
- Location: Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium, Terre Haute, IN
- TV: ACC Network
- Radio: The game will as part of the Tar Heel Sports Network on the flagship, WCHL 97.9 Chapel Hill, and also on WBAG 1150 AM Burlington and WOHS 1390 AM Shelby. Dave Nathan will provide the call.
- Streaming: The game can be streamed on the ESPN app and Watch ESPN