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It wasn't really surprising that freshman left fielder Seth Baldwin wasn't starting games for the No. 1 North Carolina baseball team.

After six appearances as a designated hitter Baldwin had a .143 batting average and one hit.

But after a two-home-run and six-RBI performance in Tuesday's matchup with Princeton" UNC coach Mike Fox might think about starting him again.

""Yeah" I'm not very smart" am I?"" Fox asked with a grin after the game.

Baldwin earned his first career start and his first home run — on a sixth-inning grand slam" no less — in Tuesday's game and he said it all came down to relaxing at the plate.

With the bases loaded and one out already up on the board" that probably wasn't easy.

""I really didn't try to think about it too much"" he said. I just wanted to do my job and hit the ball hard — somewhere.

""I was really anxious. I just had to settle in.""

Fox said that's the problem that's plagued the freshman all year — it's been nerves" not potential" that's held him back.

""Seth's got the most power on our team" offensively. We all know that because we've watched him in batting practice and in the cages Fox said. But he's just a freshman" and it's just taken him awhile to figure it out.""

For Baldwin"" ""awhile"" seemed as though it would never end. When asked"" he'll tell you that not only did he struggle — he ""really" really really really really struggled" all the way through the fall and the spring.""

Despite coming in as one of the leading home-run scorers of his high school team — a team that won the state championship his junior year — he still had a lot to learn.

""I got used to the pitching in high school" because it's not as fast he said. When I came up here it was a lot faster" so I had trouble adjusting for a while.""

But as he's become more comfortable at the plate and on the campus"" Baldwin has been able to enjoy the ride a little more.

And for a guy who's ""always"" wanted to come to UNC"" that's a welcome feeling.

""I was really dead set on coming here" so when they talked to me I committed immediately" Baldwin laughed. This is a really good place to be.""

Baldwin went to high school with former Tar Heel Chad Flack — now a student coach for UNC — and he said he and Flack sat down for 30 minutes to talk about the program during Baldwin's senior year.

The freshman isn't promising to mirror the success of Flack" who sits at third all-time in home runs for UNC but Tuesday's performance — four runs" four hits and six RBI in five at-bats — did show what's possible.

""The ball going out of the ballpark didn't surprise anybody in our dugout" 'cause we've seen it Fox said.

He's got just unbelievable juice in his bat. And now he's got a little bit of confidence" so we'll see.""

And it's the support of Fox and his teammates that kept him going through the early season when the hits didn't come" Baldwin said.

As they gathered to meet him near the plate after Tuesday's grand slam" the struggles were all worth it.

""They were just like" ‘Congratulations. It's good to have you back"'"" he said.

""They told me over and over" ‘Good job' and that just really makes you feel good when everybody on your team backs you up" no matter what.

""That was really nice. That's probably what made it the best"" because of them.""


Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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