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The Daily Tar Heel

Baseball Warms Up Season With Sweep of Dukes

The Tar Heels opened the 2001 season by sweeping a two-game weekend series from James Madison at Boshamer Stadium.

UNC followed up Saturday's lopsided 23-9 opening-day win with a dramatic ninth inning rally Sunday.

Trailing JMU 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore Russ Adams drove home the game-winning run with a bases-clearing walk-off triple as North Carolina escaped with a 7-6 victory.

Freshman first baseman Jeremy Cleveland greeted JMU's closer Brent Metheny by belting a lead-off double to start the ninth, and sophomore Chad Prosser followed with a walk.

Adam Greenberg pushed a bunt past Metheny to load the bases, setting up Adams' heroics.

"The big key to the whole ninth inning was Jeremy Cleveland leading it off with a double," Adams said. "I think those three guys starting off the ninth by getting on base was just huge."

Despite the two-run deficit, the Tar Heels (2-0) were confident entering their final at bat.

"Before we came out in the last inning, we brought everybody in, and the upperclassmen said that this is our trademark: coming back in the ninth inning," sophomore catcher Ryan Blake said.

The Dukes (0-3) took control early with four runs in the second inning off of UNC starter Scott Senatore, who was making his college debut. The freshman lefty surrendered four runs on five hits and four walks in three innings of work.

Freshman righthander Kevin Brower kept North Carolina close while the offense mounted its comeback.

"I was proud of Kevin, a freshman pitcher, coming in and doing a nice job in the middle part of the game," UNC coach Mike Fox said. "When you get behind like that you anticipate coming back and scoring some runs, but it is important that your pitching just holds you right there."

However, it was senior transfer Jason Howell who picked up the win in relief, tossing 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

Howell, who started the game as the designated hitter, collected two hits and scored a run while striking out six.

The ninth inning comeback foiled the strong pitching of JMU's Chris Cochran, who held the Tar Heels to two runs on two hits while fanning four through the first five innings.

"I thought he was outstanding early. He just kept us off balance a little bit," Fox said.

Saturday, several Tar Heel batters had impressive days, and UNC's 23 opening-day runs were its most since 1981.

Greenberg circled the base paths all day, collecting four hits, including a

3-run homer, and driving in five runs.

Junior third baseman Chris Maples and sophomore left fielder Sean Farrell each hit 3-run home runs, and Blake added three hits, including two doubles.

By the end of the day, several JMU pitchers had ERAs that resembled Joseph Forte's scoring average. Mike Trussell was shelled for 10 earned runs in three innings, and UNC touched up reliever Rick McKernan for six earned runs.

The offensive outburst made a winner out of sophomore Scott Autrey, who scattered six hits and allowed two runs in six innings of work. The win improved Autrey's career record to 8-0.

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Said Fox, "This is a great start for us, and I know our guys are going to gain confidence with every game we win, and that is important for a young team."

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