The top-seeded Tar Heels will fight to remain in the College World Series Thursday night against N.C. State. The game will mark the fifth time the two teams meet this season.
On the mound
By allowing freshman Trent Thornton to throw 114 pitches in seven innings on the mound in Tuesday night’s 4-2 win against Louisiana State, coach Mike Fox essentially ruled out using the righty in Thursday’s game.
But he will have three usual weekend starters at his disposal with Benton Moss, Kent Emanuel and Hobbs Johnson.
The trio has struggled of late, pitching only a combined nine innings in the Super Regional and first game of the College World Series.
But that doesn’t mean that UNC’s coaches have lost faith in their pitching staff.
Pitching coach Scott Forbes said Johnson likely would have started if the team had to take on UCLA instead of LSU Tuesday afternoon. Johnson owns a 2.62 ERA, while Moss has a 3.78 ERA.
UNC will face a familiar N.C. State pitching staff, one that will likely put lefty Carlos Rodon on the mound.
Rodon pitched a complete game against UNC on Sunday and only allowed the team to record one run on five hits.
At the plate
North Carolina has been among the nation’s highest-scoring teams since the season began, but those bats have been far less consistent in postseason play — primarily because UNC’s lefty-dominated lineup keeps running into left-handed pitchers.
There are signs that the offense could be on the rise, however. Star third baseman Colin Moran (.344 average, 13 home runs, 89 RBI) picked up three hits against Louisiana State on Tuesday, and Brian Holberton (.317, 12, 58) and Skye Bolt (.327, 6, 51) both benefited from a lineup switch.
Holberton had a home run in the game, and Bolt knocked in two hits.
Though the Wolfpack scored just one run in a 2-1 loss to UCLA Tuesday, they hammered in eight runs against the Tar Heels Sunday.
Tarran Senay (.289, 8, 59) has been red hot for N.C. State in the postseason dating back to the Raleigh Regional, and shortstop Trea Turner (.376, 7, 41) is a dynamic force at the top of the lineup.
UNC will have its hands full, especially with the way its pitchers — outside of Thornton — have thrown.
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