June 24, 2006

College World Series Capsules

College World Series Schedule and Recaps


Closing argument


By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. – They sound like partners in a law firm.


Danford, Hovis and Carignan, LLP. Consider the LLP stands for “little leads protected.” Opponents have been seeing the same verdict: case closed.

Everyone is very aware of North Carolina’s big three of Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard and Robert Woodard, who is expected to get the ball in Sunday’s second game of the best-of-three College World Series championship series. But don’t sleep on Matt Danford, Jonathan Hovis and Andrew Carignan.

All three played a role in Saturday night’s 4-3 win, combining for four scoreless innings in the Tar Heels’ win. Danford tossed 1.2 innings, while Hovis added 1.2 innings and improved to 8-2 and Carignan struck out the last two batters for his 15th save.

“Our relief pitching has been just outstanding,” Carolina coach Mike Fox said.

Including Saturday, the trio is 17-6 on the season with 17 saves. Hovis entered Saturday with a 1.20 ERA, Carignan checked in at 3.27 and Danford stood at 4.62. The combo has fared quite well in the shadows of their better-known pitching mates.

“Everyone knows how good our three starters are,” Carignan said. “We know that at the end of the game, we got to be there to shut the door. So their success is able to be what it can be. Because they wouldn’t have all those wins if someone at the end of the game couldn’t shut it down for them. The three of us take pride in that.”

Chad Flack, Saturday’s hero, can be called as a witness.

“They’re unbelievable,” he testified. “They’ve been there all year long… I think that’s a huge part. We have starting pitching. But if you get to the seventh or eighth inning and you don’t have anyone to close out the game, you can run into some trouble. I think we have the best pitching staff in the country top to bottom.”

Asked which of UNC’s six pack gives him the most trouble, he got a little uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to face any of them,” Flack said.

“One of the thing that frustrates me the most is trying to hit off Andrew Carignan. He can pretty much blow it past me any time he wants to.”

Carignan limits hitters to a .154 average and has 44 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. His ball seems to explode as it approaches the plate.

“At the end, his ball really does seem to take off,” Flack said. “It just seems that once it gets halfway there, it just is kind of already in the mitt.”

Hitters are confused. So is the Tar Heels’ closer.

“It confuses me probably more than it confuses anyone else,” Carignan said. “Bard and Miller, they throw harder than I do. But, I can go in there after one of them pitches, and I can just seem to blow people away.”

The Tar Heels are one win away from a national title. Their three aces surely have played a huge role. Their three closers, however, have put forth one heck of a closing argument.