June 16, 2008
Tar Heels Torture Tigers with
UNC bangs out 17 hits, including 15 singles
No Sophomore Slump
By Phil Stanton
OMAHA, Neb. – Early on, it was dinks vs.
dingers, base hits vs. bombs.
Of the Tar Heel’s 17 hits, 15 were singles, as
No. 2 North Carolina defeated No. 7 LSU 8-4 in the final
first-round game of the 2008 College World Series in front of
22,239 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.
The Tigers (48-18-1) will face Rice on Tuesday at
2 p.m. ET in an elimination game. The Tar Heels (52-12) meet
Fresno State in a winners’ bracket game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
“It’s always a good feeling to get the first
win,” said UNC head coach Mike Fox. “Tonight was typical of our
team, a team effort. We singled them to death there for a while.
It was big that we respond after the first inning, get some runs
and take some pressure off. We knew it was going to be important
for us to not give up the big inning. It was a total team effort
for us and we’re certainly happy with the win.”
LSU got its first two runs via the long ball.
Michael Hollander led off the game with his sixth homer and Matt
Clark started the second with his national-best 27th
UNC’s first 10 hits were singles. The Tar Heels
got leadoff singles in each of the first four innings. Dustin
Ackley hit an infield chopper for a base hit, Kyle Shelton
singled to right and Tim Fedroff reached on a bunt to first to
load the bases with no outs. A walk to Tim Federowicz, a single
by Kyle Seager and a sacrifice fly by Chad Flack gave the Tar
Heels a 3-1 lead.
“I gave up the first home run,” said UNC starter
Alex White. “It’s early, I just had to keep pitching and get the
next three guys out. Scoring three runs in the bottom of the
first was probably the biggest key for us tonight, proving that
that one run wasn’t going to beat us. It gave me great
confidence to continue on in the game.”
That bottom of the first hurt the Tigers.
“It was a very frustrating game for us,” said
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “Mike got us off to a great start
with the home run. In their first, it was a series of really
tough breaks for us that got us in a hole.”
Fedroff had a base hit and scored in a two-run
third as UNC led 5-2. Ryan Graepel singled and scored in the
fourth for a 6-2 UNC advantage.
Seager mixed it up with a leadoff double in the
fifth and came home on a base hit by Garrett Gore to push the
Tar Heel lead to 7-2.
The Tigers tried to rally in the sixth, using two
walks and a wild pitch to put a pair in scoring position with
one out. But UNC starter Alex White (11-3) got a come-backer to
the mound and a popout to short to end the threat.
Seager had a leadoff single in the seventh and
scored on a double by Sheldon Williams to make it 8-2.
UNC got its leadoff hitter on in six of its eight
at-bats and five of them scored.
“It’s important for us to get leadoff guys on,”
Fox said. “Any time you put the pitcher in the set, it changes
his rhythm. Most pitchers, especially starters, would prefer to
pitch out of the windup. We had a lead, so we tried to be
LSU did put two on the board in the top of the
eighth and could have had more, if not for a missed call by the
first base umpire. Hollander singled and White went 2-0 to end
the night for White (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Brian Moran
came on and gave up singles to Jared Mitchell and Blake Dean to
load the bases. Micah Gibbs drew a walk to force in a run. Moran
struck out Clark for the first out. Rob Wooten relieved Moran
and surrendered a base hit to D.J. LeMahieu to make it an 8-4
game. Leon Landry hit a bouncer up the middle that Graepel
fielded. He stepped on second, but Landry beat the relay throw.
First base umpire Jack Cox called Landry out, completing the
double play and ending the inning.
The Tigers put two on in the ninth, but Wooten
got a groundout to end the game and record his fifth save.
“They outpitched us tonight,” Mainieri said. “I
think that was the main key to the game. We need to pitch better
on Tuesday against Rice and do a lot of other things a little
Williams was one of four Tar Heels with three
hits, He also drove in three. Fedroff and Seager had three hits
and two runs each. Graepel also finished with three hits and a
Hollander went 3 for 5 for the Tigers with two
runs and an RBI.