This week the Diamond Heels play two games against James Madison, Tuesday and Wednesday, but the weekend brings the final road trip of the 2013 baseball season. Carolina travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech, the RPI #23 team.
The Heels are 41-4, and depending on the outcome of the mid-week games, could be 43-4 going to Atlanta. That’s winning better than nine out of every 10 games. On the road, the Heels are an impressive 9-1, the one loss coming in Raleigh vs. NC State.
Georgia Tech travels to the B1G team Ohio State this week for two games. The Yellow Jackets are 28-16 on the season, 20-7 at home, but only 2-8 in their last 10 games including a sweep by NC State in Raleigh and losing two of three at home to Coastal Carolina.
As we’ve mentioned on Keeping It Heel before, the Heels will start the series with Kent Emmanuel. In his last start against the Wolfpack, Emmanuel pitched eight innings, tied his career-high with nine strikeouts, and surrendered only one run. The junior pitcher is 9-1 on the season, but he’ll be in for a tough battle Friday night.
Tech senior Buck Farmer was a 2012 All-ACC selection, and the Friday night starter is having a solid season again this year. Farmer is 8-3 with a 2.27 ERA, and in his 83.1 innings has struck out 92 hitters. Farmer holds opposing hitters to a .235 average and has only walked 32 batters this year.
The strength of the UNC team is its depth as the pitchers after Emmanuel can cause fits for opposing hitters as well. Georgia Tech isn’t as deep. The second and third starters for the Yellow Jackets have 3.74 and 4.89 ERAs respectively. If the Heels play well, they should continue their road excellence and win two or all three of these games.
This series is more than just a final road trip for Carolina. If the Heels win all three games, they’ll clinch the top seed in the ACC tournament. Carolina currently sits at 19-3 in conference ahead of Virginia (17-7). The Cavaliers close the season with a series in Chapel Hill, but even a Virginia sweep would only add three losses to Carolina’s record. If the Heels sweep Georgia Tech, they’ll be four games ahead heading into those last three.
It’s been an awesome season thus far for the Tar Heels, and though most in Chapel Hill will be thinking of graduation on Sunday, the Diamond Heels will be hoping to celebrate a regular season conference title.