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The Daily Tar Heel

Baseball: UNC facing tough condensed schedule

After a difficult series loss to Florida State in Tallahassee Fla. No. 4 North Carolina will try and rebound against High Point today at Boshamer Stadium.

The series loss was the second in the ACC for the Tar Heels who also dropped two of three games to Duke in Chapel Hill. After UNC dropped two games to FSU last weekend its ACC record stands at 10-7.

That's already as many losses as UNC had throughout ACC play last season as the Tar Heels finished with a 22-7 conference record in 2008.

One reason is that the ACC has gotten much better from 2008. In the most recent National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America poll six ACC teams are ranked in the top 25 and seven received votes. That's compared to five teams ranked at the end of the 2008 season.

Due to the new condensed NCAA schedule" the Tar Heels have to play five games per week for the entire season.

""It catches up to you about now" coach Mike Fox said last week. You're in your sixth or seventh week of five games a week" so this is really when it starts taxing on you.""

The Tar Heel bullpen has shown that strain" with relievers Brian Moran and Nate Striz both missing time in the past two weeks due to fatigue.

The loss of Moran one of UNC's go-to relievers" particularly stung because the junior sat out the entire FSU series.

""It's that time of year" where you just get into the training room a lot" Fox said.

North Carolina (25-9) also has shown the wear of those tougher weekend battles by stumbling out of the gate in midweek games.

While the Tar Heels have lost only two midweek games all year, Fox often has to sit through nine stressful innings of close battles in the middle of the week as UNC falls behind early or struggles to pull away in the later innings.

Lefty struggles

Though the Tar Heels and their lefty-laden batting order can make life miserable for right-handed pitchers, they have struggled to hit left-handed pitching thus far in the year.

But All-America third baseman Kyle Seager said UNC now knows how to beat that strategy, and teams can keep throwing left-handers at their own peril.

We have to progress with that" Seager said last week. Because we hit like six or seven lefties every night other teams know that" so other teams are going to throw lefties against us.

""I don't think it's a big deal" I think we've gotten used to it I think we can hit lefties just fine so if they want to keep throwing them" then that's fine.""

Seager's point resounded last Sunday against FSU" despite North Carolina's loss. When the Seminoles trotted out left-handed reliever John Gast the Tar Heels sent him back to the bullpen after he gave up two runs in just one inning of work.

The Tar Heels couldn't pull off the win Sunday but they'll get another shot today against High Point.

And any concerns about left-handed pitching most likely will be put off until the next game as the Panthers have only two left-handed pitchers on their entire roster — and both of those are freshmen who aren't in the regular rotation.


Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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