Carolina’s baseball team made the risky move of crossing the South Carolina border on Wednesday night, and left the lesser of the two states with a 5-2 loss to Coastal Carolina.
The Heels and Chanticleers were supposed to meet in Chapel Hill on April 24th, but the game was cancelled due to rain. Coastal got to host their half, and they made sure we knew they were happy about it early.
Leadoff hitter Cory Wood walked to lead off the bottom of the first, and the second batter was shortstop Seth Lancaster. Lancaster homered to right to drive in Wood, and Coastal was up 2-0 before starting pitcher Taylor Sugg recorded an out. Sugg was lifted after a Lee Sponseller (one ‘O’ away from an epic name) RBI double in the 3rd. Sponseller was not done making up for his name, as he singled home another run off reliever Tyler Baum in the 5th, putting Coastal up 4-0.
As Carolina has done so well in recovering from a rough start to the season, they showed signs of life in the middle innings. Shortstop Ike Freeman, who seems to get ALL of the clutch hits, yanked his first home run of the season to cut the deficit in half.
Unfortunately, that was all for the Carolina offense as Coastal added a home run in the bottom of the 8th.
Here’s the silver lining: the Heels are in great shape to play for bigger and better things!
Baseball America released their updated bracket projection on Wednesday, and the Heels are sitting pretty. Only absolute juggernaut Florida, and Stanford, a team I’m willing to believe is good, are ahead of the Heels in the pecking order.
Carolina is currently slated as the #3 national seed, meaning they’d have the opportunity to play all the way to Omaha without leaving Boshamer Stadium. The projected opponents are Ohio State, Missouri State, and North Carolina A&T, which seems fine.
Joining the Heels, Gators, and Cardinal in the top-8 are Clemson, Arkansas, Oregon State (conveniently would be set to be the Heels’ first game in Omaha if both teams were to make it), Georgia, and Ole Miss. Florida State, N.C. State, and ECU all also earned regionals in this mock, with Duke (lol) the highest-ranked team NOT to host. Without much knowledge, it stands to reason that they don’t schedule well in the nonconference in any sport.
The Diamond Heels close the regular season with three pivotal games at Duke this weekend, followed by a Tuesday trip to UNCW and a home series with Virginia Tech. Two wins in Durham would clinch an outright Coastal Division title for the good guys.