Big day of games. This is actually the first time I’ve been able to see a college baseball tournament, and I can hardly think of a better way to spend a Friday in the summer. Just be prepared to battle the heat.
East Carolina 9, Western Carolina 8- I thought Western Carolina had this game. The Catamounts were holding on to a 5-4 lead when they scored 3 runs in the top of the 6th to make it 8-4 in their favor. But the Pirates (whose fan base outnubmered WCU’s by about 15 to 1) immediately responded with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth. WCU was able to get out of their jam in the seventh inning, but Jamie Ray’s outfield single in the 8th drove in two runs to give ECU the lead for good. After their big sixth inning, the Catamounts offense was shut down completely by the Pirates bullpen.
The comeback by ECU was thrilling, but it’s been a while since I’ve sat outside for three hours in the middle of a June day in North Carolina. 90 degrees, 90% humidity. Just lovely.
UNC 6, Jacksonville 0- Thankfully, the heat cooled off significantly for this game, which made it a lot more fun for the fans. The heat really got to one fan, whose heat exhaustion was severe enough to require medical attention. In Game 1, I would say the stands were only about 70% full, and considering the heat, I was surprised it was that much. For Game 2, every seat in Boshamer Stadium was occupied.
The Tar Heels went ahead early, as Josh Horton, Chad Flack, and Kyle Seager hit three consecutive RBI doubles in the bottom of the 2nd inning to attain a 3-0 lead. That was enough cushion for starting pitcher Robert Woodard, who continued his perfect record at home this season. He allowed seven hits in 8 innings, but no runs. After grounding out the final batter in the eighth inning, he left the field to a standing ovation by the Carolina faithful. Tim Federowicz drove in two more runs in the bottom of the 8th to seal the game. Timmah!
Saturday- West Carolina plays Jacksonville in the elimination day game, while ECU and Carolina play the evening with a berth in the regional’s final game at stake. Pitching for the Tar Heels will be freshman standout Alex White, who is from ECU’s town of Greenville, NC. That should bring a bit of intrigue to the game: the hometown hero, now playing for the enemy.
The next set of games should be a lot of fun, especially since I know more about the teams. I hope that Saturday’s weather is a little cooler, so I can pay more attention to the game and less attention to whether or not my face is going to melt. But I guess that’s what sunblock is for.