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Heels head to Omaha having already exceeded expectations

Posted June 16, 2011

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Dozens of Tar Heel fans gathered around the baseball team bus before it departed for another College World Series.

As the players signed autographs, the joy was obvious as even they admitted this latest trip to Omaha, Ne. is one they are surprised to take.

“It’s something I kind of expected my freshman year with all the talent on that team,” said junior catcher Jacob Stallings. “This year was a little less expected.” For that reason, the veteran Heels say this CWS is even more special.

“People said the whole year, ‘The Tar Heels aren’t going to be any good. They’re not going to make it to Omaha,’” added pitcher Greg Holt.

“That probably helped us,” said coach Mike Fox of the lowered expectations.

But two months ago, the team was at a low point. After being swept by NC State, UNC dropped its next two ACC games at home to Miami.

“I was just kind of sitting there, like, are we really this good?” Stallings wondered.

The attitude of the team changed with its sweep of No. 1 ranked Virginia to finish the regular season. “Then we were like, you know what, we’ve got a really, really good chance of getting back to Omaha,” said Holt.

UNC plays in the first CWS game Saturday at 2 p.m. against Vanderbilt. Former president George W. Bush will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

This is Carolina’s fifth College World Series in six years. The Heels not only want to win for themselves but for the players who came before them. “I talked to [former players Dustin] Ackley, Garrett Gore and [Mike Cavisini], and they were like, ‘This is the year that you guys need to go out there and win it.’ We’ve been there enough times. Now, it’s time to finally get the job done,” Holt said.

“But hopefully, the Missouri River doesn’t flood,” he added. Forecasts of possible flooding in downtown Omaha could make for an unpleasant week for teams and fans.

But for the players who have been to the CWS before, they offer simple advice. “Buy as much stuff as you can,” Stallings said. “That’s something I regretted from last time. I didn’t get enough memorabilia.”

Now, UNC is hoping to return to Chapel Hill with the ultimate souvenir: that elusive College World Series trophy.

16 Comments

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  • cussmeoutmike Jun 17, 3:25 p.m.

    University of South Carolina established 1801, University of N.C. established 1789. They're Carolina in South Carolina, we're Carolina in North Carolina. They're not the Wolfpack, WolfPack, or whatever, and I don't care what they call themselves. We, UNC, are just happy to be playing in the CWS instead of sitting at home reading license plate numbers.

  • 4tarheels Jun 17, 3:23 p.m.

    This could be a match up of both Carolinas. Someone made the comment that UNC was the... View More

    — Posted by dsalter

    UNC is the real Carolina. When people out of the state hear you say Carolina, they think UNC.... View More

    — Posted by 45HEELSFAN45

    Arrogance, pure arrogance.

    Go just about anywhere in South Carolina and refer to... View More

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again02

    I agree that in South Carolina they refer to themselves as Carolina, however, in most of the rest of the country, Carolina is UNC. It's not arrogance, it's a product of UNC basketball and the legacy built by Dean Smith. What sports legacy has South Carolina built that would make people recognize them like UNC basketball. Not arrogance, just the truth.

  • stewartd11 Jun 17, 3:20 p.m.

    The University of Northerners and Communists belong with Obama. He is ruining this country.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jun 17, 3:09 p.m.

    This could be a match up of both Carolinas. Someone made the comment that UNC was the... View More

    — Posted by dsalter

    UNC is the real Carolina. When people out of the state hear you say Carolina, they think UNC.... View More

    — Posted by 45HEELSFAN45

    Arrogance, pure arrogance.

    Go just about anywhere in South Carolina and refer to "Carolina", and they'll assume you're talking about the Gamecoccks.

    In the rest of the country, they would probably ask "North or South?" if you referred to "Carolina".

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Jun 17, 3:07 p.m.

    Oh, the Heels have exceeded expectations, alright...... and their baseball team has done pretty well, too!

  • duane11 Jun 17, 2:34 p.m.

    GO Cavs!!! ACC!

  • 4tarheels Jun 17, 1:45 p.m.

    This could be a match up of both Carolinas. Someone made the comment that UNC was the... View More

    — Posted by dsalter

    UNC is the real Carolina. When people out of the state hear you say Carolina, they think UNC.... View More

    — Posted by 45HEELSFAN45

    Not when it comes to their mascot name. Pretty unique there.

  • UNCalumnus Jun 17, 1:24 p.m.

    Certainly Vanderbilt can score runs. UNC can pitch a low scoring ballgame. Certainly at the CWS runs come at a premium. The players from 09 still on the team should be able to exert a calming influence. Go Heels!!

  • GhostofSmitty Jun 17, 12:03 p.m.

    These boys, due to lack of big MLB drafted names are flying under the radar a bit. I like the cut and mettle of these boys up and down the lineup. They will give teams fits and this could be the year. Go Heels!

  • 45HEELSFAN45 Jun 17, 12:01 p.m.

    This could be a match up of both Carolinas. Someone made the comment that UNC was the... View More

    — Posted by dsalter

    UNC is the real Carolina. When people out of the state hear you say Carolina, they think UNC. When you say USC people think Southern Cal. South Carolina sure has an identity crisis.

    Go Heels!!

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