May 10, 2008

Around the Bases


CBI Live
Ackley sparks No. 2 North Carolina past Virginia


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – It was a clinic on how to hit in the leadoff position.


Sophomore 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 Davenport Field.


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 were tonight.”


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 strikeouts.


“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 pitches.”


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 three strikeouts.


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.