Going to the College World Series is becoming a routine for the Carolina baseball team, but that doesn’t mean the coaches or players are any less thrilled to be there.
That was made clear by the player dog pile after the game and the hugs that Coach Mike Fox ’78 was giving out like candy.
“I want to be respectful to the other teams not act like a kid, but I felt like a kid today when it was over,” Fox said. “You can’t ever take this for granted.”
The Tar Heels’ two-game sweep of East Carolina over the weekend sends them to Omaha for the fourth straight year. They will play Arizona State on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern. The four-peat is an unprecedented feat in ACC history.
Though the first NCAA Super Regional game against ECU on Saturday was a 10-1 thrashing, the story of the day wasn’t offense – it was Alex White’s pitching. He had one of the worst outings of his career at the ACC Tournament and hasn’t gotten a win since April 24, but on Saturday he reminded everyone why he is considered one of the best pitchers in the country.
White made sure his last start at Boshamer Stadium (assuming, as most do, that he will get drafted this year) would be one to remember. He pitched 8 1/3 innings and struck out 12 Pirates, leaving the mound in the ninth with a standing ovation, both from the Tar Heel crowd and some wearing purple: White is a native of Greenville.
Kyle Seager had four hits, including a home run, and Levi Michael added three to power the Tar Heel offense.
UNC had control of its own fate Sunday, and it took the best-of-three series with a 9-3 win over ECU, which was overmatched all weekend.
Dustin Ackley hit a three-run home run, and pitcher Adam Warren picked up where White left off on Saturday, taking a shutout into the eighth inning.
Warren, a senior who will be making his fourth trip to Omaha, said he was honored by the standing ovation the Boshamer crowd gave each senior.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Our crowd has been great all year, and for them to do that for us was really special and emotional for me. I’m sure it was for the other guys,” he said. “You kind of reflect on your four years here at Carolina in a flash like that. I’m pretty excited right now.”
UNC’s Super Regional win also marks the first time in ACC history that a member school played in a football bowl game, the men’s basketball Final Four and the baseball College World Series in the same season.
Carolina is currently second in the Learfield Sports NACDA Directors Cup, the all-sport competition that ranks NCAA Tournament performances for men’s and women’s sports across the country.
The Tar Heels also won the women’s soccer national championship and played in the men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse national championship games.
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