North Carolina grabs another CWS bid
Game delayed more than three hours due to lightning and rain
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Kent Emanuel held Stanford to one run through six innings and North Carolina held off a late rally to beat the Cardinal 7-5 on Saturday to clinch another trip to the College World Series.
Jacob Stallings drove in three runs for the Tar Heels (50-14), who swept the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional to reach Omaha for the fifth time in six seasons.
The Tar Heels led 6-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning before the Cardinal (35-22) rallied to within a run behind a three-RBI double from Austin Wilson. Then, with two outs in the top of the ninth, officials stopped the game for 3 1/2 hours due to lightning and heavy rain.
When the game resumed, Stallings added an RBI single to give North Carolina an extra cushion. Reliever Michael Morin then got Stephen Piscotty to groundout to end it more than seven hours after the first pitch.
The Tar Heels reached the College World Series for four consecutive seasons from 2006-09, but lost in the regionals at Oklahoma last season. They rolled through last weekend’s regionals at Boshamer Stadium by a combined score of 27-3, then rode strong pitching performances from Emanuel (8-1) and Friday's starter Patrick Johnson to return to Omaha.
It marked only the fifth time the Tar Heels had reached 50 victories while Emanuel became the first freshman in school history to win two postseason games.
Emanuel regrouped after a slow start and held Stanford to five hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings. But North Carolina came dangerously close to giving that away. While Emanuel retired 11 of 13 batters before giving up Wilson’s single, Stanford managed to get seven of its next 10 batters on base to close the gap to 6-5 on Wilson’s long double to left center. Zach Jones grounded into a double play to end the eighth.
While Emanuel looked sharp, Stanford starter Jordan Pries (6-6) struggled to put the ball over the plate. With just more than half his 72 pitches going for strikes, Pries repeatedly got behind batters—he reached 3-0 in the count four times—and lasted just 3.1 innings.
Ben Bunting’s RBI single into right tied the game in the fourth, then Brian Holberton followed with a hit that hugged the right-field line and reached the wall. The double scored Stallings and Bunting for a 3-1 lead that ended the day for Pries, who failed to reach the fifth inning in a weekend start for the first time all season.
Pries allowed six hits and three runs while walking two, a performance that came just a week after he threw 7.2 shutout innings against host Cal State Fullerton on the way to earning regional MVP honors.
Stallings had a two-run single to left field in the seventh inning to push the lead to 6-1. Then he came through with a big hit against reliever Chris Reed after the long stoppage, sending a liner over the outstretched glove of a leaping Kenny Diekroeger and into left field to score Levi Michael for a 7-5 lead.