Baseball is a marathon sport. You play more games in baseball than you do in any other sport and your season lasts around four months depending on how far you advance. The Tar Heel baseball team have gotten off to a great start to their marathon. Mike Fox and company showed the nation, at Seton Hall’s expense, why they were recognized by many as the nation’s top team.
Snow and rain may have ended up being Seton Hall’s biggest ally over the weekend because what would have been a three game series was shortened to just two, both of which the Tar Heels dominated. In game one on Friday, the Tar Heels rallied behind their ace and preseason All American pitcher, Kent Emanuel and just let him mow through the Pirate lineup en route to a 1-0 win. The junior pitched into the UNC history books as he became the first pitcher in Carolina history to throw a shutout in a season opener and he did so by striking out more batters (five) than allowing hits (four) during his nine innings of work. Senior Chaz Frank was the only batter to help Kent’s cause when he was able to drive in freshman Skye Bolt on a sacrifice fly to center in the 6th inning.
It was surprising to see a Tar Heel team, as highly ranked as they are, struggle hitting the baseball and scoring runs like they did on Friday especially with the amount of veterans they have throughout their lineup. However, any doubts were put to be on Sunday afternoon after the Tar Heels absolutely ran over Seton Hall to the tune of 17-2. The offensive out pour from Carolina really overshadowed what was a great day pitching by Benton Moss who struck out seven batters next to giving up just one earned run over five innings of work.
While veterans like Frank, Grayson Atwood and, Carolina’s other All American, Colin Moran had nice games, it was freshmen Skye Bolt and Landon Lassiter who stood out above everyone else. Both freshman combined for 8 hits in 9 at bats in the series finale and logged 5 combined RBI’s and scored a couple of runs. I mentioned that Bolt, who dazzles not only offensively, but on defense with his great speed as well, was on our freshman watch list, but Lassiter has been a great story on opening weekend as well. Both kids seem to be fixtures early on in the Tar Heel lineup and are sure to be key later in the year.
It’s been a fun opening weekend of baseball in Chapel Hill, but it’s just the start of a long road. Carolina hosts Coastal Carolina in Chapel Hill today at 3:00 PM and will look to continue their winning ways to begin their campaign.