Posted: 4:22 p.m. Saturday, June 8, 2013
By Brian Barbour
It appeared at first that the Kent Emanuel relief stint against Florida Atlantic on Monday may have done some serious damage to the Tar Heels' shot at winning this Super Regional. The UNC ace and recent third round pick of the Houston Astros struggled through 2.1 innings giving up four runs and handing the Gamecocks a 4-2 lead. Midweek starter would come in to stop the immediate bleeding. Munnelly, Tate Parrish and Chris McCue combined to hold South Carolina scoreless from the third to the sixth inning before turning the game over to Trent Thornton.
Meanwhile at the plate, North Carolina was able to piece together enough runs to stay in the game. Colin Moran effectively broke out of his prolonged struggle with the bat to double in Landon Lassiter. Moran then scored on one of three South Carolina errors on the day. Gamecock LF Graham Saiko dropped a routine fly for what should have been the third out but instead allowed UNC to tie the game. In the 3rd, Moran led off with a single and scored on a double from Cody Stubbs to draw the Heels within one run.
With the UNC bullpen keeping South Carolina largely in check, the Heels struck again in the sixth when a two run double from Brian Holberton put North Carolina ahead 5-4. With the one run lead, Thornton came for what was certain to be a three inning stint. The freshman closer handled the 7th but in the 8th gave up his first run in over 17 innings of work. With the game tied, Thornton worked an impressive 1-2-3 ninth to give the Tar Heels a chance to win it.
Parks Jordan lead-off the ninth with a single and was moved to second on a sac bunt from Chaz Frank. After a Lassiter ground-out, South Carolina opted to walk Moran rather than face the nation's leading RBI man. That brought freshman Skye Bolt to the plate who, like Moran, had struggled in recent weeks. That was not the case this time. Bolt fought off multiple 0-2 pitches before poking the ball into right field. Jordan was able to beat the throw from second giving the Heels a 1-0 lead.
On Sunday, Hobbs Johnson will try and send the Tar Heels to Omaha for the first time since 2011. If the Tar Heel bats show up like they did today, UNC has a good chance to get it done.