Around the Bases
Ackley sparks No. 2
North Carolina past Virginia
By Phil Stanton
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – It was a clinic on how to
hit in the leadoff position.
first baseman Dustin Ackley (right) was a major contributor for
second-ranked North Carolina as he reached three times with a
single, a two-run double and was hit by a pitch, stole a base,
had a sacrifice fly and scored twice
Junior shortstop Greg Miclat was key for Virginia
as well as he reached four times with three singles and a walk.
He also stole a base and scored twice.
It was Ackley’s Tar Heels who finished with the
upper hand, posting a 9-3 win in the opener of this three-game
ACC series with the Cavaliers in front of 2,007 soggy fans at
A four-run fourth was the turning point for UNC
(19-5, 41-8) as Ackley’s two-run double capped the rally to give
the Tar Heels a 6-3 advantage. Ackley had singled and scored in
a two-run first for North Carolina.
“Both guys tonight showed what kind of players
they are,” said UNC head coach Mike Fox. “Miclat, he’s a good
player. When he gets on base, he makes things happen for them.
He creates opportunities for them to score. The times he got
early, he came around to score. And Dusty, I’m extremely biased.
I think he’s the best player in America.”
The Cavaliers (13-12, 33-16) got on the board in
the bottom of the first as Miclat led off with a single, stole
second, moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a
base hit by David Adams to cut the lead in half. Adams
eventually came home on a bases-loaded walk with two outs to
Franco Valdes to tie it at 2-2.
Miclat helped Virginia take a 3-2 lead in the
second as he had a one-out base hit, moved to second on a wild
pitch, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and touched home
on a single by Adams.
“I felt like we fought back after we gave up two
in the top of the first,” said Virginia head coach Brian
O’Connor. “I felt like our guys were fighting and we found a way
to scratch some runs across and took the lead. Unfortunately for
our part we gave up a four-run inning in the fourth and could
never recover from that. You just can’t do that against a great
club like North Carolina. They’re No. 2 in the country for a
reason and they’ve got very, very good players. Alex White is a
talented pitcher and we’ve got to be a little bit better than we
Ackley knew his teammates would not be rattled
with the early deficit.
“We’ve been in a bunch of situations where we’ve
been behind,” Ackley said. “We know not to panic, just play our
game and hopefully things will work out in the end.”
After the four-run fourth, Ackley was hit by a
pitch and scored in the seventh, and his sacrifice fly finished
a two-run eighth as the Heels pushed the lead to 9-3.
Alex White (8-2) survived a rough start to record
the win for UNC. After giving up three runs in the first two
innings, he blanked the Cavaliers over the next four innings.
White allowed six hits in six innings with four walk and eight
“That was huge,” Fox said. “You don’t want to go
to your bullpen on a Friday night in the second or third inning.
We’ve learned to stay with Alex. He usually gets better as he
goes and fortunately we were able to weather those first couple
of innings, the game didn’t get away from us and he was able to
settle in and get a little more aggressive and make some better
Brian Moran worked two scoreless innings out of
the bullpen for UNC with one hit and two strikeouts. Rob Wooten
allowed two hits and fanned two in the ninth.
Jacob Thompson (5-3) took the loss, surrendering
nine hits and five earned runs in six innings with no walks and
Virginia has won the past two regular-season
series against North Carolina, but will have to win two straight
to make it a three-peat.
“It’s like any series in this league.” Fox said.
“If you get the first one, that’s huge. It throws the pressure
back on the other team, especially if you’re at home. You never
like to lose that first one at home. We’ve done that a few times
and it puts a lot of pressure on those next couple days to try
to get a win or two at home. So it was important for us and I
thought we played well tonight.”
The Cavaliers were playing for the first time in
nine days following final exams.
“The game of baseball is meant to be played every
day,” O’Connor said. “You lose a little bit of your instincts
without playing for nine days. But that’s no excuse. Hopefully
the energy of final exams being over can outweigh those
instincts. I felt like Miclat and Adams really swung the bat
well for us and they hadn’t been recently so that was a good
sign. We needed them to. We just didn’t do enough and hopefully
we got that one game under our belt and we can come back
tomorrow and play a good ballgame.”
There was a 32-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth. No
lightning, just rain.
North Carolina has won 16 of its past 17 games.
The Tar Heels have 152 wins over the past three seasons, the
most in the nation.
Virginia is 0-8 against ranked teams this season,
with three against both Florida State and Miami and single
losses to Coastal Carolina and North Carolina.
Weather permitting, the second game will be
played on Saturday at 6 p.m. The scheduled starters are RHP Adam
Warren (7-1, 4.70 ERA) for the Tar Heels and LHP Pat McAnaney
(4-2. 2.05 ERA) for the Cavaliers.