June 11, 2013
Tar Heels Stop Gamecocks
By John Whittle
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -
North Carolina scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth
inning Tuesday afternoon en route to a 5-4 victory over South
Carolina to become the eighth and final team to reach the
College World Series.
In a game marred by errors, misplays and sloppy
execution on both sides, the Tar Heels (57-10) came up with
enough big hits - and a crucial walk - to punch its ticket to
Omaha for the sixth time in eight years. The Gamecocks (43-20)
fell short of a return to Omaha, where they reached the final
series for three straight years, winning two national titles.
“It’s a very, very disappointing day for us,”
South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “I felt like the game
was there for us to win. We didn’t make some plays we normally
make, do some things we normally do. You have to credit North
Carolina. We kind of opened the gates for them a little bit.”
South Carolina made mistakes but North Carolina,
masters of the comeback late this season, took advantage at the
“I told them today before the game how much I
trust them,” North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. “It’s easy for
me to sit here and say this team deserves to go to Omaha and I
really, truly believe that. People doubted them here down the
Junior Brian Holberton snatched the lead for
North Carolina in the bottom of the second inning with a two-run
home run off South Carolina starting pitcher Jack Wynkoop.
Holberton sent a first-pitch fastball over the right-field wall,
which was the first homer that Wynkoop has allowed all season in
Errors played a critical role in all three games,
and South Carolina was able to retake the lead in the top of the
fifth on a routine fly ball that was dropped. UNC centerfield
Chaz Frank coasted to a two-out pop up off the bat of Joey
Pankake but the ball hit off his glove and fell to the ground
allowing both runners on base to score. The Gamecocks took a 3-2
lead at that point with reliever Adam Westmoreland on the mound.
“We thought maybe that was the break we needed,”
South Carolina senior Tyler Webb said. “North Carolina is a
great team, and we knew they wouldn’t go away quietly. We knew
we’d have to play good baseball the last four or five innings.”
That would be the last time that the Tar Heels
would make an error. The Gamecocks had more to come, and those
mistakes played a large role in the final outcome.
In the sixth, there were makeable defensive plays
that impacted the inning and ultimately the game – the hosts
took full advantage and went from a 4-2 deficit to a 5-4 lead.
Pankake had a line drive go
off his glove for a leadoff single, while right fielder Connor
Bright misplayed an RBI triple to the corner. UNC senior Cody
Stubbs hit a fly ball to center with no one out that wasn’t deep
enough to score Moran from third base. Freshman Skye Bolt, who
reached when he was hit by a pitch, tagged to go to second base.
USC first baseman Kyle Martin, the cutoff man, threw the ball
past second and back into the outfield allowing Moran to score
and tie the game.
Later in the inning, No. 9 hitter Parks Jordan
worked an eight-pitch walk off Gamecocks closer Tyler Webb to
give the Tar Heels the lead for good.
“We haven’t given up all year,” UNC reliever
Trent Thornton said. “I knew [Frank’s error] wasn’t going to be
the deciding factor.”
Thornton (11-1) allowed three runs (one earned)
over 4.2 innings to pick up the win. Right-hander Chris McCue
registered four outs before giving way to staff ace Kent Emanuel
for the final two.
Emanuel, who entered with the game-tying run on
first base in the ninth inning, threw just two pitches and
recorded a fly ball out by cleanup hitter LB Dantzler and a
ground out from Grayson Greiner to end the game. The save was
the first of Emanuel’s career, which capped a run of four
appearances in 11 days.
The Tar Heels entered the weekend without losing
two straight all year and kept that record intact.
“Starting the series, it wasn’t the start I
wanted,” Emanuel said of his Saturday night performance.
“Finishing it was pretty cool.”
South Carolina committed nine errors on the
weekend. All of the runs in the sixth inning were earned on the
stat sheet, but Holbrook knows there were plays there to be
“It’s unfortunate it happened at this time of
year,” Holbrook said. “In postseason play when you’re playing a
great team, every little mistake is magnified. We made our fair
share this weekend and it’s disappointing. We lost two games,
and both games were there for us to win.”
North Carolina will meet ACC rival NC State in
the opening round of the College World Series. The two teams
will meet on Sunday at 3 p.m. EDT at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in
the third game of the CWS.