Heels Hope To Stay Hot
April 7, 2009
Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Fresh off its second straight series victory over a top-10 ranked opponent, No. 3 North Carolina faces another stiff test Tuesday when No. 15 East Carolina comes to Boshamer Stadium at 6 p.m. The Tar Heels (24-7) will host a second midweek outing Wednesday when Richmond comes to Chapel Hill for a 6 p.m. start.
A webcast of Tuesday's game with ECU will be available live and on-demand via ACC Select.
Carolina is coming off its first series win at Georgia Tech since 1998 with a pair of wins last weekend. All-Americas Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager combined for seven hits, including two home runs by Ackley and four doubles from Seager in Sunday's 13-10 series clincher. Ackley is among the ACC leaders in most offensive categories and is batting .408 with 10 home runs, 36 runs and 27 RBI.
Sophomore right-hander Patrick Johnson, who is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings, will start Tuesday against the Pirates (25-15). He made a pair of appearances last week, including 3 1/3 solid innings against Old Dominion April 1. Johnson has never faced ECU, and Tuesday will mark his 10th career start.
ECU is slated to start left-hander Patrick Somers, who is 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in nine relief outings, opposite Johnson. The Pirates are batting .361 as a team with 47 home runs. Outfielder Trent Whitehead leads the way with a .438 average, but ECU six regulars batting .373 or better.
East Carolina enters Tuesday's meeting on a five-game winning streak after sweeping UAB over the weekend.
The Tar Heels and Pirates are meeting for the first time since Carolina posted a dramatic 11-10 win over ECU in the 2007 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional. UNC has won eight straight and holds a 43-24 lead in the all-time series, which dates to 1958.
UNC has not named its starter for Wednesday's game with the Spiders (13-12), who have dropped their last seven games. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with Richmond by a 14-7 margin.
Before closing the book's on last week's action, TarHeelBlue.com takes a look back at the week that was for the Diamond Heels:
NOTING THE WEEK OF MARCH 30-APRIL 5:
• The first series win at Georgia Tech since 1998 highlighted a 4-1 week for North Carolina. The Tar Heels won game one in Atlanta 4-2 behind All-America right-hander Alex White, and rebounded from a tough-fought, 11-inning game two loss with a 13-10 victory in the finale Sunday behind All-Americas Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager.
• With two wins over No. 3 Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels are 7-4 against ranked opponents this year, including series victories over Clemson, Virginia and the Yellow Jackets. UNC is now 35-22 overall and 6-4 in weekend series versus top-10 opponents since the start of the 2006 season.
• After Tech grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first Sunday, the Tar Heels had a single-inning season-high eight runs in the second inning to propel Carolina to the 13-10 win. Dustin Ackley's three-run homer led UNC to his fourth inning with seven or more runs this season.
• Carolina had an outstanding week with the glove last week with just three errors and a .984 fielding percentage. The Tar Heels committed just one miscue in the Georgia Tech series for a .991 mark. UNC has committed only five errors in the last 11 games and has raised its season fielding percentage to a sparkling .973 mark.
• Dustin Ackley and Ben Bunting led Carolina at the plate last week with matching .429 (9-21) averages. Ackley added four home runs, eight RBI, three steals and seven runs scored, while Bunting drove in three and also scored seven. Ackley homered twice and drove in a season-best four runs twice on the week - against Davidson Tuesday and Georgia Tech Sunday. He now has five career multi-homer games, including three this season. Ackley is batting .408 with 10 home runs, which ties his career high, and 27 RBI on the season.
• Ackley moved into a tie for fourth Carolina history with 284 career hits and slid into fifth all-time with 188 runs - all in just two and a half seasons.
• Ben Bunting matched a career high with four hits in Sunday's finale and shares the team lead with 14 multi-hit games. He is batting .356 on the season with 22 RBI and 32 runs scored.
• Kyle Seager became the fourth Tar Heel - and first since Jarrett Shearin in 1998 - with four doubles in a single game Sunday in Atlanta. His four hits also matched a career high for the third time. Seager, who led UNC with a .417 average in the Georgia Tech series, leads Carolina 15 doubles on the season and is now fifth in program history with 55 for his career. He is batting .380 with 30 runs and 22 RBI on the season.
• Mike Cavasinni hit .385 (5-13) in the series win at Georgia Tech with a three-hit game in Saturday's loss. Cavasinni tripled and scored in Sunday's victory for his third triple in the last 10 games.
• All-America Alex White, who has earned a win in 10 of his last 13 appearances, went a season-best eight innings against Georgia Tech Friday to improve to 5-0 on the season. He held the Jackets to just two runs on four hits and struck out eight for his fifth game with eight-plus Ks this season. White's win was the 24th of his career to move into a tie for seventh in school history with Daniel Bard, Roger Williams and Scott Bankhead. He also ran his career strikeout total to 249, which is 10th all-time at Carolina.
• Sophomore right-hander Bryant Gaines earned a win and a save last week. After pitching five strong innings versus Davidson Tuesday, Gaines earned a save in Sunday's finale in Atlanta in just his second appearance in an ACC game. He went the final three innings to close out Carolina's 13-10 win. Gaines is 4-0 with one save, a 3.44 ERA and 37 strikeouts over 34 innings this season.