Delay gives Vandy time to regroup
Lineup change proved beneficial in the Tar Heels 3-0 win
OMAHA, Neb. – TD Ameritrade Park has officially been broken in, thanks to a weather delay Monday evening during the Florida-Vanderbilt game which pushed the conclusion to Tuesday morning.
With Florida leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, downtown Omaha filled with the sound of a tornado siren, which sent fans and players heading for cover.
The game will resume at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday with two outs and a 1-0 count to Vanderbilt’s Jason Espisito.
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North Carolina 3, Texas 0
Florida vs. Vanderbilt
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Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour embedded within a line of thunderstorms whipped through the area beginning at 8:02 p.m. CT.
Before the storms arrived, Florida’s Preston Tucker belted the second home run of the 2011 College World Series, a three-run shot that went over the rightfield bullpen and gave the Gators a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Heads or Tails: Following North Carolina’s loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, Mike Fox began contemplating a lineup change. His shortstop and two-hole hitter Levi Michael went 0-for-4 against the Commodores and had just four hits in his last 26 at bats entering Monday’s contest against Texas.
Fox wrestled with dropping Michael in the order, and finally the head coach flipped a coin to decide his dilemma. He ended up starting senior centerfielder Ben Bunting in the second spot, and dropping Michael to seventh in the order.
The flip of the coin worked out for Fox and the Tar Heels as Bunting went 4-for-5 with a run scored and RBI-double in the eighth inning to add an insurance run to UNC’s lead.
“That was a huge swing of the bat,” Fox said. “They were playing in a little bit there with two strikes. There is a big difference being ahead 2 0 or 3 0. You just get one guy on in a 2 nothing deficit, and you can get right back in the game, so that was a big swing of the bat.”
Bunting, who has 11 hits in his last 18 at bats, is hitting .500 (11-for-22) in six career CWS games. He is batting .452 (14-for-31) in this year’s NCAA postseason.
“Ben's really been playing well down the stretch for us,” Fox said. “Glad I hit him in the two-hole today.”
Double Vision: While North Carolina pitcher Kent Emanuel was the big story against Texas, the Tar Heels’ defense was not too shabby either. In addition to playing errorless ball against the Longhorns, UNC turned two double plays from the outfield, stopping any momentum Texas seemed to gain.
In the second inning Paul Montalbano flew out to left field, and got nailed by Chaz Frank before he could return safely to first base. It happened again in the fourth inning as UNC right fielder Seth Baldwin threw out Texas’ Mark Payton at second base following Erich Weiss’ fly ball out.
“Any time we can end the inning on double play and get two for one is always big,” UNC pitcher Kent Emanuel said. “That's just credit to our outfielders today. Those are two uncommon double plays, and I was fortunate to have two of them today.”
Before the game, Texas head coach Augie Garrido had talked to his team about being aggressive as it faced elimination.
“Both were judgment plays in which they were being aggressive, and it ended up being the wrong decision because of [North Carolina’s] athleticism,” Garrido said. “In hindsight, it doesn't look very good, but in reality, the player has the right to read the ball and read the play. Then, if they do make a mistake, then we all have a chance to overcome it.”
Noting the CWS
• The win against Texas was North Carolina’s first Monday game of the season and first since June 4, 2007, in the Regional versus Western Carolina. The Longhorns played on Monday, June 6, in the Austin Regional final against Kent State.
• North Carolina’s shutout is the first in a CWS game since Oregon State blanked Rice on June 22, 2006. It is also the first complete-game shutout in the CWS since UNC’s Robert Woodard tossed one against Clemson on June 18, 2006.
• The 2011 season is the first time since 2000 and only the fourth time in 34 CWS appearances that Texas has gone 0-2, with the others coming in 1961 and 1965.
• It was the fifth time in 138 CWS games that Texas has been shut out and the first since a 7-0 loss to Pepperdine in 1992. The others were in a 9-0 loss to Notre Dame in 1957, a 2-0 loss to St. John’s in 1966 and a 3-0 defeat against Connecticut in 1972.