UNC fends off Towson comeback, 8-5
Posted June 1, 2013
Cody Stubbs got things started for the Tar Heels but Michael Russell’s three hits, three RBIs and two runs propelled Carolina to the 8-5 win over Towson Saturday.
Carolina jumped out to a 5-0 lead through six before the Tigers got on the board. A solid early pitching performance by Heels Kent Emanuel gave way as Towson scored five runs in three consecutive innings. But late runs and solid defense by North Carolina held off the Tiger comeback.
"We're excited to win," said North Carolina head coach Mike Fox. "Nothing's easy obviously at this point of the season. We just kept hanging in there. Another tough win for us but a good one."
Stubbs’ solo home run in the top of the second inning put North Carolina up 1-0 on the only hit through the first two and a half innings.
In the fourth Russell put the Heels up 3-0, singling in a pair of runs with a two-out base hit to left. Carolina continued to hit around in the fifth, stealing a run at home for a 4-0 lead. With two outs in the top of the next inning, Brian Holberton doubled off the wall in right field to send Michael Russell in.
In the bottom of the sixth Emanuel allowed a double and a walk to set up an RBI single by Towson’s Pat Fitzgerald to get the Tigers on the board. Emanuel saved further damage by striking out Kurt Wertz.
"Late in the game Emanuel lost a little bit of his command and allowed us to take advantage," said Towson head coach Mike Gottlieb.
The Tigers pounced again in the seventh on an RBI single by Brendan Butler. But the Heels would answer right back with back-to-back doubles for another score in the top of the eighth. Zolk followed with an RBI out at shortstop forcing Towson to pull starter Brandon Gonnella for Nick Cioffi.
In 7.2 innings pitched Gonnella allowed 11 hits, seven runs and walked seven with one strikeout.
Trouble for North Carolina starter followed as Emanuel allowed a double, a walk and then hit Fitzgerald with a pitch to load the bases. Designated hitter Kurt Wertz singled to right, scoring two runs. An RBI sac fly added another as Towson closed the gap to 7-5.
"The last three innings I just didn't make the big pitches that I usually make," said Emanuel.
Fox traded Emanuel for Trent Thornton who closed the inning unscathed. In 7.2 innings pitched Emanuel allowed nine hits, five runs, walked two and struck out eight. Earlier in the game he picked off two base runners for his tenth of the season.
"The second kid he picked off tonight look at me and said a bad word," UNC's Cody Stubbs said with a laugh. "I said, 'I don't know what to tell ya man'."
An RBI by Skye Bolt and a three-up three-down performance in the bottom of the ninth brought Carolina to the game final.
North Carolina will advance to play the winner of Florida Atlantic vs. Towson Sunday at 6 p.m. Florida Atlantic avoided elimination Saturday with a 14-6 win over Canisius. Florida Atlantic and Towson face off at 1 p.m. Sunday with the loser being eliminated from regional play.