North Carolina relief pitcher Chris McCue had nothing to work with in the sixth inning other than the ball in his hand.
It was his job to protect a 6-1 lead with High Point base-runners covering the bags and one out. He did that with a pop out to shallow right field and a strikeout. Both outs he recorded with his fastball.
“I’ve been put in a lot of pressure situations, so I’m kind of used to it,” McCue said.“I’ve been able to hit my spots with my fastball and that’s been effective — so we keep using that.”
It was the only life the Panthers showed since their one-run second inning, and McCue snuffed it out. That effort helped No. 7 UNC (28-9) absorb a three-run ninth inning from High Point (22-17) to win 10-5.
Prior to that spurt, there was little High Point could do against UNC and starter Shane Taylor.
Taylor (4-0) made his first start of the season and second career start Tuesday. Taylor allowed five hits and just one run in five innings of work even though he said he didn’t have his best stuff.
“We were mixing it up quite a bit, just keeping them off the barrel,” he said. “Defense made all the plays out there today, so that really helped. I just tried to keep them off balance mostly today.”
Coach Mike Fox said it wasn’t vintage Taylor, like he showed last season where he struck out 38 batters in 36 innings while walking 12. But Fox wanted to get Taylor time on the mound, and he saw glimpses of that performance.
The Tar Heels built a commanding lead behind Taylor. Outfielders Brian Holberton and Adam Griffin each knocked RBI singles in the first inning, and Griffin added another in the third.