That was AWESOME! I’ll tell you about the Tar Heels, but first a recap of Game 1.
Western Carolina 7, Jacksonville 0- I can’t say that I couldn’t foresee this happening. Jacksonville was clearly the weakest team in the field, but expected them to at least get some runs in this tournament. With the loss to the Catamounts they are eliminated, having produced 13 hits, 0 runs, and 4 errors. Western Carolina, was led by Steven Strasbaugh on offense (3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) and by Drew Saberhagen, son of Bret Saberhagen (8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 5 K). With this win they will play on Sunday in a rematch with ECU for the right to play Carolina in Sunday’s night game. But on to the main event.
North Carolina 11, East Carolina 10- This may have been the most exciting baseball game I’ve ever attended in person. East Carolina is a very good team. Whenever it looked like the Tar Heels would have some control over the game, the Pirate offense blasted the door back open. After the Tar Heels struck first blood, ECU scored five runs in the top of the third inning, including a bases clearing double by Stephen Batts, to take a 5-1 lead. The Pirates offense did a very good job at the plate, but the umpire in this game sucked royally. His bad calls went for and against both teams in the game, and there was likely not a single person in the stadium who thought the ump (whose name is Scott Inman) did a good job in this game. Having said that, we got lucky in this game. We scored 4 and 3 runs in the 3rd and 6th innings, respectively, and the Pirates defense had 2 key fielding errors in each.
Still, the offense did enough to give ECU a seemingly safe 10-8 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and the middle of the order (Horton, Flack, etc.) retired in the 8th. Shane Mathews came in to pitch for reliever Jason Nietz, and Mike Cavasinni came in to pinch hit. Mathews walked the first two batters. Garret Gore then hit a sacrifice bunt, sending Kyle Shelton and Cavasinni to 2nd and 3rd base with one out. With Reid Fronk at-bat, Mathews threw a wild, pitch, allowing Cavasinni to score from third and cut the deficit to one. The crowd in Boshamer stadium roared to a level usually reserved for football and basketball games. Finally, Fronk singled on a grounder up the middle, scoring Shelton, tying the game. Then came the two star UNC freshmen, Tim Fedroff and Dustin Ackley. Fedroff hit a single to bring Fronk to second base, then Ackley’s line drive down the middle scored the winning run, sending the crowd completely insane, cheering nonstop for three solid minutes after Fronk reached home plate.
It was a fantastic game, and I am now officially hooked on college baseball. I will have a more detailed (and definitely more entertaining) recap of this game later in the week.
Tomorrow- Western Carolina and East Carolina face each other again, as the Cats try to avenge blowing a 4 run lead against the Pirates on Friday. The Tar Heels await the winner, who will have to beat UNC twice if they wish to advance into the Super Regionals next week.