June 16, 2008


No Sophomore Slump

White shines in start for Tar Heels


By Ben Trittipoe



OMAHA, Neb. – What a difference a year has made for North Carolina pitcher Alex White.


White’s first experience at the College World Series in 2007 is one he’d like to forget. The then-freshman made two starts for the Tar Heels, facing Rice and eventual national champion Oregon State, and was lit up for combined 13 hits and 11 runs in 6.2 innings.


White’s first appearance in the 2008 College World Series was starkly different. Facing LSU in Game 4 Sunday night, the sophomore right-hander showed what he had learned over the past year by stifling a strong Tiger offense in an 8-4 Tar Heel victory.


The Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, White allowed a leadoff home run to LSU’s Michael Hollander, but he recovered to allow just three other hits over seven-plus innings to improve to 11-3. White allowed three runs, walked two and struck out six in 107 pitches as he became the first starting pitcher to reach the eighth inning in this year’s CWS.


“Things didn’t start great for Alex, but he showed the strides he’s made from last season,” North Carolina head coach Mike Fox said. “You hope kids learn in this game, grow older and mature. When he was struggling a bit in the sixth and got the big outs [a comebacker and a pop-up] to get out of the inning, I told him that was the biggest difference in him from last year.”


“When [Hollander] hit the home run, it was still early and I just wanted to get the next three outs,” White said. “The bottom of the first [when UNC scored three runs] was a big key and gave me great confidence to continue on in the game.”


White noted that his split-finger pitch was the key to his success against LSU.


“It was definitely my best pitch tonight,” White said. “We knew that I would have to throw it a lot to their left-handed hitters to keep them off-balance, and I kept getting them out on the front foot with it. It was the big key for me tonight.”


Tiger hitters Matt Clark (a lefty) and Hollander backed up White’s assessment.


“He throws the ball really hard,” said Clark, whose solo home run in the second inning gave him the national lead with 27. “He’s got good out pitches and we were swinging at balls out of the zone early in the game. That put us in a hole, chasing balls out of the zone.”


“He was throwing two of his best pitches for strikes,” said Hollander. “His slider was really biting. We weren’t really making the best decisions at the plate. We were swinging at bad pitches.”