Freshman Adam Pate , already known for late-game heroics,
came in to pinch hit and slammed the ball into the left-center gap . Russell
scored and the rally was supposed to begin.
But it didn’t.
Pate, who said he can sometimes be overly-aggressive
rounding the bases, tried to extend his double into a triple, only to be thrown
out at third.
“I hit it, but I didn’t think it was going to go out because
that’s not who I am,” Pate said. “So I was just running. I’m very aggressive.
And it kind of bit me in the butt this time.”
The seventh inning has proven to be a key point in the game
for the Tar Heels this season. Through 20 games, UNC is 13-0 when leading after
the seventh. But when losing, the team is just 1-3 .
Despite Pate getting thrown out at third base , Russell said
that the team was expecting a rally in the final two innings.
“I’m always expecting it,” Russell said. “I’ve gotten used
to playing here, us being down often and we’ve come back a lot of times. We
never feel like we are out of the game.”
Instead of giving the Tar Heels momentum, Pate’s out at
third only added to UNC’s struggles. No other Tar Heel managed to reach base
after the seventh inning .
Coach Mike Fox said that he didn’t consider Pate’s mistake a
momentum killer, but added that it did not help the team’s cause.
“One play swings the momentum back and forth from one dugout
to the next,” Fox said. “All of sudden we get a run and we have the tying run
at second and we have (Korey) Dunbar coming up who’s hit two balls on the nose, but he
didn’t get a chance.”
Fox said the game being impromptu — Tuesday's game against Princeton was canceled due to weather — was not a reason for the
sluggishness. He expected the team to rally after the offense in the seventh
He added that momentum can turn quickly in baseball, and the
team has to be always ready to strike.
“The game can turn on one swing of the bat,” Fox said. And
if you don’t believe it or think it, it’s not going to happen. It can turn when
it doesn’t look like it’s going to turn.”
“It’s about getting over the frustration.”
But for the Tar Heels, frustration proved to be too high a
mountain to climb.