June 22, 2008


Flack Attack Keeps Tar Heels Alive

North Carolina to face Fresno State Sunday for spot in Championship Series

Clutch Performer

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. – It was another game-winning homer for the Heels.


After failing to get down a sacrifice bunt, Chad Flack (left, photo courtesy of UNC Media Relations) crushed a 3-2 pitch well over the wall in left for a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give No. 2 North Carolina a 4-3 victory over Fresno State in the 2008 College World Series in front of 18,611 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


The Tar Heels (54-13) and Bulldogs (44-30) will play again on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET for a spot in the Championship Series against Georgia.


“Wow,” said UNC head coach Mike Fox. “I really don’t know what to say. I know Chad Flack is the clutchest player I’ll ever be fortunate enough to coach. He’s proven that time and time again for us.”


It was the second straight game won by the Tar Heels with a home run in their final at-bat. Tim Federowicz smacked a grand slam in the top of the ninth Friday to defeat LSU.


With UNC trailing 3-2, Kyle Seager led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to right center, bringing Flack to the plate.


“The beginning of the at-bat, Coach had given me the bunt,” Flack said. “My job in that situation was to get Seager to third. I didn’t get it down the first pitch. He threw me some balls and Coach gave me the green light to swing. I just missed the 3-1 pitch. I was looking 3-2 just to make sure I did my job to get Seager over and he happened to leave one over the plate for me.”


It was Flack’s seventh home run and first in this year’s CWS.


UNC right-hander Alex White (13-3) entered with the bases loaded and one away in the seventh. He fanned two with fastballs clocked in the mid-90s to end the threat.


“It’s fun coming into that situation,” White said. “Bases loaded, you have to throw strikes. Tonight I just went with the fastball and it worked.”


White retired all eight batters he faced, including five by strikeout. In the top of the ninth, he got a groundout and a pair of punchouts to earn his third win in the 2008 College World Series, making him just the ninth hurler to register three wins in one series.


After the start of the game was delayed 48 minutes due to rain, Fresno State scored in the top of the first. Danny Muno drew a leadoff walk and was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Gavin Hedstrom, who moved to second on a single by Erik Wetzel and came home on a base hit by Steve Susdorf to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.


North Carolina had two base-runners in each of the first three innings, but failed to score. Dustin Ackley led off the third with a base hit and moved to second on a one-out single by Tim Fedroff. Federowicz hit a foul popup on which FS first baseman Alan Ahmady made a sliding catch in front of the tarp. Ackley tagged at second and tried to advance to third, but was thrown out by Ahmady for a double play.


The Bulldogs increased their lead in the fourth. Ahmady had a two-out single and came home on Tommy Mendonca’s 17th homer to give Fresno State a 3-0 advantage.


The Tar Heels broke through in the bottom of the frame. Flack, Garrett Gore and Seth Williams had consecutive one-out singles to produce a run. After a walk to Ryan Graepel loaded the bases, Ackley hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Gore to make it a 3-2 contest.


UNC starter Matt Harvey went five innings with five hits, three runs, one walk and five strikeouts. It was his second consecutive start, as he went two innings on Friday against LSU. Rob Wooten, Brian Moran and White combined to pitch four scoreless innings with two hits, three walks and six strikeouts.


“Our pitching tonight was the story of the game,” Fox said. “Matt gave us exactly what we needed, gave us five innings and didn’t make us go to our bullpen too early. Our relievers came in and got big outs. I think Alex found himself a new role, perhaps, the last couple nights. It was a great win for us and I’m glad we’re here for another day.”


Justin Miller (6-4), the fourth FS hurler, surrendered Flack’s home run and took the loss. He pitched the final 1.1 innings and fanned one.


“I thought that was an extremely well-played baseball game on both ends,” said FS head coach Mike Batesole. “Outstanding defense, both teams, clutch defensive plays. Both teams made some big, big pitches when they had to. And just enough offense to make it a good baseball game. I’m proud of the way we played, and because they won the first two that put them in a position where tonight didn’t hurt us and we get to go at it again tomorrow.”