Tar Heels shut out The Citadel
Finals week is a pain for everyone, and it can be particularly tough for student-athletes trying to balance games and practice with exams. For Mike Zolk, this was especially true.
Zolk had a history exam at 12 p.m., a math exam at four, and then had to get down to Boshamer Stadium Wednesday to help the No. 1 North Carolina baseball team wrap up its 42nd win against The Citadel (27-19).
Due to his loaded schedule, Zolk was scratched from the lineup just before the game started when coaches realized he wasn’t going to be out of his exam in time for the six o’clock game.
“I didn’t finish until about 6:30,” Zolk said. “So I just got down here as quick as I could.”
“It didn’t really distract me from the game… I want to play everyday, I want to compete everyday. It definitely distracted me from school doing that, its tough especially during exam week.”
Freshman infielder Matt Campbell earned his first start for the Tar Heels and held down the fort until Zolk arrived in the sixth inning. Campbell went 2-3 with two singles and an RBI.
UNC’s pitching was excellent, with five pitchers combining for nine shut out innings in the 13-0 win.
Junior Hobbs Johnson started the game and went five innings while striking out a season high nine batters, and giving up just two hits and no walks.
“(I) felt great,” Johnson said. “Today is probably the best I have felt delivery wise and command wise… hopefully (I can) keep it up.”
Coach Mike Fox said the pitching went exactly how they scripted it before the game.
“Hobbs was really good,” Fox said. “He hadn’t pitched in a while and started off with a good first inning… Exactly what we wanted out of the pitching.”
In the first inning, Johnson pitched three straight strikeouts, and it was the first three up, three down inning of three he logged.
With a six-day break for exams coming up, Fox wanted to make sure his pitchers were getting their work in. Kent Emmanuel, Chris McCue, Mason McCullough, and Trent Thornton all pitched in relief and combined for four innings and four strike outs while giving up just one hit.
Now Fox wants his players to focus on their exams.
“Here comes the six day break,” Fox said. “Now is when they need to just focus on their exams coming up for the next three or four days and then we will kind of start it back.
“I think the tell-tell will be next week… you know do we have any rust or anything? I don’t expect we will but we have a long exam period here, so the guys have to stay ready.”
Fox said the team will get Thursday and Friday completely off with late workouts and bullpen Saturday afternoon after exams.
Johnson said he thinks the break will be good for the team, but he expects everyone to come back next Tuesday ready to play.
“I think the team is going to come back fired up and ready to play,” Johnson said. “It’ll give everybody time to rest and get everybody healthy.
“For me, I mean I love playing but having a little break will be great too.”