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Game 1: North Carolina 10, East Carolina 1
White Leaves Lasting Impression
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. –
With one out in the ninth, North Carolina coach Mike Fox
strolled to the pitcher’s mound at pristine Boshamer Stadium.
His ace pitcher, junior Alex White (right), had just struck out
his 12th East Carolina batter, a career best.
“I felt like I needed to give Alex his due with
the career he’s had,” Fox said.
Fox and catcher Mark Fleury arrived at the mound
at the same time. After a few seconds, Fox sent Fleury back to
the dish and spent a special moment alone with White, the
right-hander who likely was toeing the rubber for the last time
at home and is expected to be selected as one of the top 10
picks in this week’s Major League Draft.
Fox summoned Nate Striz from the pen and jogged
off the field, leaving White all alone to wait for Striz, as the
North Carolina crowd stood and cheered. The applause continued
as Striz came in. East Carolina fans, well aware that White
hails from their hometown of Greenville, joined in. Tar Heels
shortstop Ryan Graepel and second baseman Levi Michael removed
their gloves and began clapping.
When White left the mound, the Tar Heels’
“It’s possibly my last start right here, who
knows?” White said. “It was just great with the crowd. It was an
emotional moment, and I enjoyed it.”
“It was really emotional for me,” UNC third
baseman Kyle Seager said. “I know how hard this guy works and
what a competitor he is. To see him come off the mound when he
did and see the whole stadium embracing him…I was pretty
White wasn't dominant Saturday in a 10-1 win over
the Pirates, who scratched for nine hits. But he showed the grit
and stuff that North Carolina fans have grown to expect, the
explosiveness and competitive nature that scouts love. He
allowed a second-inning homer to Brandon Henderson then struck
out seven of the next 13 hitters, prompting ECU coach Billy
Godwin to say, "Once he settled in, he may have beaten the
In short, he gave the Tar Heels exactly what they
needed against the potent Pirates in winning for the first time
since April 24.
“Our guys feed off of him,” Fox said. “He’s
tough, a competitor, he doesn’t back down and he wants the ball.
Whether or not he feels good, he wants to be out there. That’s
part of the quality of a good leader.”
And on Saturday, White led the Tar Heels one step
closer to an incredible fourth straight trip to the College
World Series in Omaha.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoyed every
moment of it.”
(photo courtesy of UNC Media Relations Office)