June 9, 2008
Tar Heels Reach Omaha Again
UNC completes sweep of Coastal Carolina
By Keith Parsons
Keith Parsons is a former
sports writer for The Associated Press in Atlanta and Raleigh,
N.C. He counts covering North Carolina’s run to the 2005 NCAA
basketball championship as perhaps the highlight of his
journalism career. He gave up full-time writing in 2006 to enter
the world of banking.
CARY, N.C. -
Another dominating performance on the mound, another explosive
day at the plate, another solid effort in the field.
Another trip to the College World
Series for North Carolina.
“It never gets old,” Tar Heels
reliever Rob Wooten said. “We worked so hard for this all year
long. We’ve got some unfinished business to take care of.”
And for the first time in three
seasons, Oregon State won’t be in the way.
The Tar Heels finished off
Coastal Carolina early with a six-run second, then cruised to a
14-4 victory Sunday to sweep the best-of-three NCAA Super
Regional played at the USA Baseball Training Complex outside of
Adam Warren (9-1) didn’t allow
his first hit until two were out in the fifth inning, leaving
the Chanticleers with little hope of rallying from that early
deficit. He lasted six innings during another 100-degree day and
gave up two hits during his 99-pitch outing.
Warren’s career record in three years is a gaudy 22-1.
“It’s always easier when the
offense scores six in the second,” said Warren, who was selected
by the Cleveland Indians in the 36th round of Major
League Baseball Player Draft earlier in the week. “You know you
can just throw strikes and give the fielders a chance to make
This facility served as North
Carolina’s home field all season while its on-campus stadium was
renovated, and with the 16th victory in the past 17
games, the Tar Heels might not want to go home.
“It’s pretty much a home-field
advantage when we play here now,” Wooten said. “We’ve got a
great ballpark right here. We’re just lucky, very lucky.”
North Carolina (51-12) is the second Atlantic Coast
Conference school to advance to the World Series three
consecutive times, joining Florida State. The first two trips
ended with losses to Oregon State in the final series, but with
the Beavers not a part of the tournament this season, perhaps
things will be a bit easier for the Tar Heels.
It certainly was against the Chanticleers (50-14), who
were making their first appearance in the final 16. They
continued to be hampered by shoddy defense - three more errors
raised their two-game total to nine - and ineffective pitching,
with starter Nick McCauley (10-3) going only two innings.
“It’s a very difficult matchup
for us,” Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. “I said all
along, if we can be in the ball game until the fifth inning,
we’d have a chance. We haven’t made it that far.”
A misplay in the field that
wasn’t ruled an error helped open up the second for North
Carolina. With one run already in, coach Mike Fox called for a
hit-and-run with runners on first and second. Ryan Graepel
whiffed on the pitch, and the throw to third from catcher Dock
Doyle easily beat Chad Flack to the bag.
Unfortunately for the
Chanticleers, third baseman Scott Woodward dropped the ball, and
Flack was safe. Garrett Gore moved up to second on the play, and
one out later, lead-off hitter Dustin Ackley drove both of them
in with a single to right.
Kyle Shelton singled before Tim
Fedroff and Tim Federowicz followed with back-to-back doubles,
and the Tar Heels led 6-0. With Warren going strong, that was
Coastal Carolina didn’t get a hit until second baseman Kyle
Seager lost a routine popup in the sun, and the first solid hit
came on Doyle’s single to center in the sixth. Warren struck out
three and had four walks.
“They kept us off-balance today,”
Chanticleers center fielder David Sappelt said. “We got kind of
frustrated and ended up having to swing at pitches that they
kept changing up to keep us off-balance.”
It was 12-0 before Coastal Carolina got on the board,
with Tyler Bortnick’s single bringing in two runs and a double
by Sappelt driving in two more.
Despite the loss, Gilmore was able to look at what his
team accomplished this season.
“What these kids are doing, at a really small school,
a mid-major, I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “We simply
weren’t good enough. We have work to do to bridge the gap,
particularly on the pitching mound.”
The Chanticleers likely will be
without Doyle next season. The red-shirt junior was a
fifth-round pick of the New York Mets in the draft, and he plans
on signing a contract.
“Honestly, this team has given me
great motivation to come back, but my whole goal this year was
to get to a Super Regional and set the bar another level,” he
said. “I just think it’s time to move on.”
The Tar Heels are moving on, too,
hoping this trip to Omaha is slightly more successful than the
“If we just play like we did all
year, I think we’ll be all right,” Ackley said.