Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 12:49:43 -0500
Hosting a regional at the conclusion of a college baseball regular season is a great honor. It means that the NCAA selection committee considers a team’s total body of work to be in the top 16 in the country.
It also means that the path to Omaha and the College World Series starts from the comfort of home.
Last spring, the North Carolina baseball team was granted that honor for the sixth time in the last seven years. But for the first time in that stretch, the Tar Heels did not advance to the Super Regional after hosting the opening rounds.
The Red Storm from St. John’s advanced after beating the Tar Heels twice.
“They were just a good team,” junior third baseman Colin Moran said about the Red Storm squad that ended his sophomore campaign.
“They had good pitchers, and a lot of those pitchers showed a lot of resilience.”
Today, the Red Storm is back in Chapel Hill for a grudge match, but this time the two teams are off to completely different starts.
North Carolina (6-0) is ranked No. 1 in the country. St. John’s (1-6) is limping through the early part of its spring road trip.
Like most baseball programs in the Northeast, the Red Storm won’t play a home game until mid-March. So St. John’s is in the middle of a 14-game stretch of road games — and the previous three were at No. 20 Georgia Tech.
Moran admitted that he hadn’t been keeping up with how the Red Storm had been playing so far this season. He’s only concerned with the way his squad has been playing. Through two weeks, the Tar Heels have played pretty well.
“It helps to get a few weeks under your belt,” Moran said. “We’re starting to get in to the groove — get in to the swing of things.”
The Tar Heels will hope to keep that momentum going through today’s rematch with the Red Storm. Though St. John’s isn’t off to the strongest start, the Red Storm is still the defending Big East champion. And it is still the team that crushed UNC’s postseason dreams a year ago. So the Tar Heels will approach it like any other match-up — at least as much as their memories will let them.
“They’re a good team, and they always have been. So we’re just going to treat it like any other game,” Moran said.
“But in the back of everybody’s mind they’re trying to forget the way last year ended.”
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