click here for
Super Regional Scores, Recaps and Capsules
White Leaves Lasting Impression
Little Guys, White Come Up Big
for Tar Heels
By Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan is a co-founder of
CollegeBaseballInsider.com who works in public relations for a
living and also coaches high school baseball. He was a
three-year starter at third base and two-time captain for the
University of Richmond Spiders.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –
Move aside Dustin Ackley. Pardon me Kyle Seager. Coming through
Alex White (left).
On a day when North Carolina welcomed in-state
rival East Carolina to the Chapel Hill Super Regional, it was
the Tar Heels’ mighty mites – Levi Michael, Garrett Gore, Mike
Cavasinni and Seth Baldwin – who transitioned from supporting to
starring roles in a 10-1 win Saturday before a sold-out crowd at
Boshamer Stadium. North Carolina (46-16) scored seven times in
the sixth inning (46-19) to break from a 2-1 game and move
within one win of its fourth straight trip to the College World
It wasn’t as if Ackley, Seager and White were
invisible – Seager went 4 for 5 with a late homer and two RBI,
and White struck out a career-best 12 in a 8.1 innings before
leaving to a raucous standing ovation. It was more that the
bottom four in the Tar Heels’ lineup – a group that averages a
whopping 178 pounds – stood out against the Pirates, who start
only one player (Trent Whitehead) who weighs 178 or less.
Michael went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a pair
of RBI, Gore drove in two with a clutch two-strike single,
Cavasinni had two hits and two runs and Baldwin, starting for
only the seventh time, went 2 for 3 with a run and a RBI.
“Our bottom-of-the-lineup guys are really good
hitters, too,” said Seager, who singled his first three times to
the plate before homering into the trees in right in the eighth.
“It’s not like they’re giving outs away.
In the bottom of the sixth, it was East Carolina
that was in the giving mood.
Sophomore ace Seth Maness (9-3) had kept the Tar
Heels off balance with a steady diet of breaking balls and
changeups. Ryan Graepel led off the frame with a single and
moved to third on Michael’s double down the right-field line.
Gore then stuck his bat out on a two-strike Seth Maness offering
and dunked it into right field for a 4-1 lead.
“We haven’t had many big innings,” UNC coach Mike
Fox said. “You have to get a little lucky to have big innings…I
thought Garrett’s swing with two strikes was probably the
biggest hit of the game.”
Cavasinni then bunted
toward first, where the Pirates were slow to react, and the
speedy centerfielder beat the throw to put runners on first and
Baldwin, who entered with eight hits on the year
and delivered two hits in his first two-at bats, bounced to
second, where Ryan Wood botched it, allowing Gore to score from
second and Cavasinni and Baldwin to advance to third and second.
Ben Bunting bunted on a safety squeeze back to reliever Patrick
Somers, but Wood was late to cover at first, loading the bases.
“When you start giving teams five outs,
especially at this level and against a team like the University
of North Carolina, you’re asking for trouble,” Pirates coach
Billy Godwin said.
After an Ackley sacrifice fly, Mark Fleury drove
in a run and Michael plated two more with a two-strike soft
liner that dropped in front of right fielder Devin Harris.
“It’s frustrating of course, but you really can’t
harp on just one hit,” Maness said of North Carolina’s dinks and
dunks. “If you do that you’re going to start making bad pitches…
You have to have a short-term memory and go after the next guy
and try to put it behind you. When they did have a couple of
them in a row, it is frustrating.”
East Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the second on
Brandon Henderson’s 13th homer of the year.
It was short-lived as Cavasinni hit a bloop,
two-strike double down the left-field line in the third and
scored on Baldwin’s single to left to tie it at 1. Bunting beat
out a potential double-play grounder to third to extend the
inning, giving the big bats of Ackley and Seager a chance with
two outs. Both singled, with Bunting coming in on Seager’s hit
for a 2-1 lead.
White (8-4) was just getting started.
The junior right-hander from ECU’s hometown of
Greenville, struck out two apiece in the second and third and
then struck out the side in the fourth.
“Usually when I struggle, it’s when I can’t hit a
spot,” said White, expected to be drafted in the first 10 picks
in next week’s Major League Draft. “I found the strike zone late
and put my fastball where I wanted to. Obviously, when you do
that and throw a secondary pitch behind it, you’re going to have
a good day.”
But the Pirates made him work, scratching for
nine hits and three walks.
East Carolina put two runners on in the top of
the sixth when Roller (2 for 3) and Henderson (2 for 4) singled
to lead off the inning. White turned it up a notch in blowing
Harris away, then induced Dustin Harrington to bounce into a
double play to end the threat.
“He has a very good fastball, and he was working
it all day,” Henderson said. “He was throwing a very heavy
fastball, and he kept it down on the knees on the outside
corner. We had a few opportunities, but we couldn’t cash in on
him. To his credit, he got out of all those jams.”
The Chapel Hill Super
Regional features the “baseball” names: Ryan Wood (ECU), Stephen
Batts (ECU), Kyle Roller (ECU), Shawn Armstrong (ECU), Mark
Wilder (ECU) and Ben Bunting (UNC).
Former UNC star Chad Flack
serves as a volunteer assistant for the Tar Heels.
Both teams ended the first
with a caught stealing, meaning ECU’s Brandon Henderson and
UNC’s Mark Fleury got sneak peeks at the opposing pitchers.
Henderson was late on two fastballs from Alex White when Kyle
Roller was thrown out on a delay steal. Henderson led off the
second and blasted a 1-0 fastball over the wall in left. Fleury
was down 0-1 on a breaking ball when Kyle Seager was picked off
first to end the first. He opened the second by singling to left
on an 0-2 fastball that Maness left up got too much of the
Kyle Roller and Brandon
Henderson singled to open the sixth, putting Pirates coach Billy
Godwin in a tough spot. With runners on first and second, up
stepped Devin Harris in what could have been seen as a bunt
situation. Harris, who singled in his previous at-bat, does not
have a sacrifice all year and entered with 61 strikeouts in 204
at-bats. White struck him out for the second time before getting
a double-play grounder to get out of the jam.
made several solid plays behind Alex White, including Levi
Michael ranging far to his left and deep into the outfield grass
to rob Jared Avchen of a RBI single in the second inning.
(photo courtesy of UNC Media Relations Office)