My view of opening day from the stands

UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels start season with a BANG!

With the 2012 College Baseball season now underway, the team located in Chapel Hill has started with a BANG in more ways than one. The UNC Tar Heels finished their three game series with Xavier winning 2 games and totaling 30 runs combined in all three.

Along with the run scoring though UNC managed to give up a combined 20 runs alone in the final two games after a rock solid Opening Day Game 1 start from Kent Emanuel.

Game 1 showed why UNC came into the season ranked 3rd in the country. From the first inning the Heels came out swinging. It seemed like everyone was making solid contact and driving the ball top to bottom in the lineup. Cody Stubbs took a pitch to the helmet in that same first and it only seemed to extend the onslaught. After two solid innings offensively and in the field UNC was up 6-0 and appeared well on their way to a Game 1 beat down of Xavier.

The combination of Colin Moran, Cody Stubbs, and Jacob Stallings batting 2-3-4 in the Heels lineup with give opposing pitchers fits as it did in Game 1. The three combined for 6 hits, 5 RBI’s, and crossed the plate a total of 5 times to lead the UNC lineup to a game final 10 runs on 12 hits. Showing the efficiency this team has in bringing in runs when they are on base.

Sophomore Game 1 starter Kent Emanuel would get the win and go 6 innings giving up 7 hits and only 2 runs. No save opportunity was possible when the bullpen looked as solid as they could on Day 1 of the regular season. Shane Taylor, Hobbs Johnson, and Mason McCullough went a total of 3 inning allowing zero runs. Taylor gave up the only two hits allowed by the bullpen in Game 1.

Overall UNC played as most expected. While at the game speaking with an American League MLB scout he said this team may have one of the best overall rosters in College Baseball. Quote-

“This team has the potential to win it all. Top to bottom they are loaded.”

That alone goes to show you the expectations are high nation wide for this loaded 2012 UNC Baseball Team. And after Game 1 it looked evident they know exactly what they need to do to reach those high expectations.

Heading into Game 2 of the Opening day double header, most were expecting a similar outcome.

Similar it would be in the lopsided score but unfortunately for UNC it was Xavier who put up 10 runs in Game 2. Freshman starting pitcher Chris O’Brien lasted only 4 1/3 innings giving up 5 hits and 4 runs. In a surprise to me the bullpen allowed an additional 6 runs following O’Brien s departure.

Xavier’s starting pitcher Jon Richard looked un-hittable at times. The Junior lefty from Versailles, Ohio was able to keep his team in the lead for most of the game until UNC finally got to him in the sixth inning. Before his departure the Heels got him for 3 runs to cut into the lead.

That was one thing the Diamond Heels could not do was grab a lead. UNC got no closer than 5-4 when the Musketeers scored 2 more runs to gain a 7-4 lead in the top of the eighth. Unable to do anything in the bottom half of the eighth or ninth, Xavier’s bullpen did what Carolina’s could not in Game 2 and shut it down for a 10-4 win.

Game 3 flipped the switch back into favor of UNC. At least on the offensive end.

After a back and forth first few innings to start the game UNC found themselves tied 8-8. After 2 explosive yet sloppy defensive innings by both teams it looked like the team to bat last would win. In that case Im sure most in attendance at Boshamer  were hoping the Heels could just stay within a run or two entering the final stretch.

In order for that to happen UNC ended up using a total of 8 different pitcher. In that turbulent 8 run second inning Head Coach Mike Fox used 4 different pitchers and watched his defense commit 3 errors. Though as intense as that second inning was surprisingly the UNC bullpen calmed down and only allowed 2 more runs throughout the remainder of the game. Junior left handed pitcher R.C. Orlan can be credited with most of that. Finishing with the eventual win and throwing  3 much needed scoreless innings and striking out 4 Xavier batters.

The overall look of Game 3 offensively for the Heels was similar to Game 1. Once again the combination of Moran, Stallings, and Stubbs made the difference. Combining for 6 runs, 5 hits, and 5 RBI’s. Along with Chaz Frank and Tommy Coyle at the top of that MLB look  UNC lineup don’t be surprised to see this team lead the Nation in runs scored throughout the regular and post season.

UNC would shake off that big let down in the second inning to go on and win 16-10 in the series ending Game 3.

Heels Take overall series 2-1 over Xavier. UNC stays home in Chapel Hill when Wright State (the Horizon League favorite) travels to Boshamer Stadium Friday February 24-26 for a 3 game series.

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Tags: Chapel Hill FanSided

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