Jun 1, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — When starting pitcher Hobbs Johnson and the rest of the Tar Heels took the field at Boshamer Stadium a little before 3 p.m. Friday, the weather-related precautions appeared to pay off. The game began under sunny skies in front of a nice-sized crowd.
UNC had jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second, but Cornell showed little signs of early intimidation.
A little before 4 p.m., after three-and-a-half innings of play, the clouds had rolled in and the temperature had dropped as the PA announcer warned spectators of impending storms.
As the rain began to lightly fall, the UNC bats heated up. Still clinging to the one-run lead, the Tar Heels sent nine men to the plate, scoring four runs on 6 hits in the bottom of the fourth and chased starter Rick Marks.
Cornell responded with a two-run blast off the bat of Brian Billigen in the top of the sixth prompting Mike Fox to pull Johnson in a 5-2 game.
Then the real rains came to the tune of a roughly two-hour rain-delay. Shortly after 6 p.m., the delay was over and the game was back on.
Cornell tallied again in the sixth, but UNC wasted no time getting two runs in their half to extend the lead back to 7-3.
They held on for a 7-4 win and will take on St. John's Saturday at 6 p.m.
"I thought they played terrific," said Fox about Cornell. "They’d probably like to have a couple walks, a couple ground balls back and that game is entirely different. I don’t want to take anything away from our team because the first game in a regional is always that one you just have to work really hard to get the win and get past this one, but I really thought Cornell just played outstanding."
Colin Moran who missed much of the year with an injury and struggled in the ACC Tournament went 4-for-5 Friday with a run scored and an RBI to pace the Tar Heels bats while Johnson got the win. Michael Morin was the sixth pitcher used for UNC and threw 1.1 innings for the save. With the save, Morin tied the UNC single-season record.
"We needed (Moran) big time today," Fox said. "He was in the middle of about all of our scoring in one way, shape, or another. He’s our best hitter, and we need him to get to where we want to go.”
Chapel Hill Regional, Game 1
No. 3 St. John’s 11, No. 2 East Carolina 3
UNC and Cornell’s afternoon start followed a morning game between East Carolina and St. John’s. Although, the Pirates may have been better off with the later start as they fell 11-3.
Playing as the No. 2 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional, ECU fell behind the Red Storm 1-0 after two. It was 2-0 after three and the deficit was quickly 5-0 at the end of the fifth inning.
ECU bats woke up to the tune of three runs in the seventh and eighth, but by then, St. John’s had built an insurmountable lead.
"I think guys are just trying to create things that aren't there," said ECU head coach Billy Godwin. "We have got to slow the game down a little bit. When the game speeds up on you, you do things that are uncharacteristic and I think that is where some of the guys are right now."
Friday marked the second year in a row that ECU fell in the regional to St. John's.
ECU will play Cornell Saturday at 1 p.m.in a loser's bracket game; St. John's will get UNC at 6 p.m.
It wasn't a one-run affair, but Carolina did in fact struggle. The Heels gave up 13 hits, which was unthinkable given the masterful pitching we've seen out of this staff over the last month. Then Morin let the tying run come to the plate in the ninth with nobody out before finally shutting Cornell down. I would expect Cornell to eliminate ECU tomorrow if both teams play the way they did today.- Posted by gtr
Meanwhile, both State and Carolina have critical winners' bracket games tomorrow (or later today, I guess). Playing at home is an advantage but not nearly as much as being the team that only has to win one more game to advance versus having to win 3 in 2 days.