The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday August 10th

Preview: Scouting UNC baseball's opponents in the Chapel Hill Regional

UNC sophomore infielder Mac Horvath (10) celebrates with teammates at home plate after hitting a grand slam during a home game at Boshamer Stadium against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Buy Photos UNC sophomore infielder Mac Horvath (10) celebrates with teammates at home plate after hitting a grand slam during a home game at Boshamer Stadium against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

The North Carolina baseball team finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the nation and is looking to continue its high-quality play into the 2022 NCAA Men’s College World Series.

After winning 15 of its last 17 contests, UNC earned a top-10 national seed and was awarded host privileges in the regional round of this year's NCAA Tournament. 

The No. 10 Diamond Heels’ road to Omaha, Neb. begins Friday at Boshamer Stadium, where UNC will compete in a four-team, double elimination tournament. Chapel Hill has served the Tar Heels well this season, and if they can win the weekend regional, they’ll advance to the super regional round.

Here’s a look at the three other teams that are slated to compete in the Chapel Hill regional. 

No. 4 Seed: Hofstra

The top-seeded Diamond Heels’ first opponent will be the Hofstra Pride in Friday afternoon’s opening game. 

Hailing from the Colonial Athletic Association, the Pride finished the regular season second in the CAA, but won the conference’s postseason tournament to punch the program’s first ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Similar to the Tar Heels, Hofstra is playing some of its best baseball of the season, riding a nine-game win streak. This streak was capped off by a 7-6 win over Northeastern in the CAA Tournament final.

Hofstra is led by its three-hole hitter, senior Brian Morrell. 

The First Team All-CAA outfielder has been a do-it-all batter for the Pride since transferring from St. Johns. His combination of power and consistency in the batter’s box has helped Morrell achieve both the top hitting and slugging percentages in Hofstra’s lineup.

No. 2 Seed: Georgia 

Depending on how its initial contest plays out, Georgia could match up against UNC on Saturday.

After initially being ranked sixteenth in the preseason Top-25 poll, defensive and pitching struggles haunted the Bulldogs all season long, culminating in a disappointing 35-21 record.

And as of late, the struggles on the mound have appeared to heighten for Georgia. The Bulldogs ended the regular season with four straight series losses and dropped their first game in the SEC Tournament. 

Even more alarming, the Bulldogs’ team ERA has slowly increased as the season has gone along. To date, Georgia boasts the second-highest ERA in the SEC, surrendering almost six earned runs per outing.

However, consistent team batting by Georgia has helped cover up some of its issues on the defensive side. Anchored by graduate Connor Tate’s 12 home runs, the Bulldogs posted a .284 team batting average this season.

No. 3 Seed: VCU

VCU punched its ticket into the NCAA Tournament after engineering four straight wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament — a run that included an impressive victory over the top team in the conference, Davidson.

Despite never gaining much national attention, VCU has quietly had one of the more successful seasons in the country from the mid-major ranks. In 58 contests this season, the Rams have tallied 40 wins with marquee victories over Virginia and No. 8 ECU.

One name on the Ram’s roster to look out for in this year’s regional is Tyler Locklear.

The redshirt sophomore has been on an absolute tear in his third year in Richmond, as the Atlantic 10 Championship Most Outstanding Player has been one of the more electric batters in the nation. Hitting at just over a .400 average and launching 19 homers this season, Locklear’s barrel could create matchup nightmares in a potential bout against North Carolina. 

@evanr0gers

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com



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