The opening game of Day 4 of the College World Series featured the North Carolina Tar Heels playing against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The Tar Heels entered the game with a 47-17 record while Southern Miss was 40-25. Both teams entered the game with a record of 0-1 with North Carolina losing to Arizona State 5-2 while Southern Miss lost to Texas 7-6. The Golden Eagles sent JR Ballinger to the hill who was 6-3 on the year with a 3.89 ERA in 17 appearances (15 starts). UNC countered with senior RHP Adam Warren who entered the game with a record of 9-2 with an ERA of 3.23.
UNC would jump on Ballinger early by getting three hits in the first inning and a walk but would only get one run across. Ben Bunting got the lead off walk in the inning and would take second base on a wild pitch. Dustin Ackley would follow with a single to center field which would give the Tar Heels the 1-0 lead. Ackley would be erased on a Kyle Seager double play ball before Mark Fleury would get a solid single to center. He would move over to third on a Garrett Gore double to left field. Levi Michael would end the inning with a ground out to B.A. Vollmuth.
North Carolina would hold Southern Miss scoreless in the bottom of the first inning. The Tar Heels would come up in the top of the second inning by getting three hits and two walks but would only scratch across one run. Graepel started the inning off by getting a single but would be doubled off first base as Mike Cavasinni would hit into a line drive double play. Seth Baldwin would follow with a walk. The next batter in Ben Bunting put runners on first and second with two outs. Dustin Ackley would follow with a double to left-center field gap to score Baldwin from second and put the Heels up 2-0. Kyle Seager would load the bases by getting a walk before Mark Fleury would ground out to first to leave the bases loaded.
After another scoreless inning by UNC’s Adam Warren, the Tar Heels offense would come alive with two outs in the top of the third. Ryan Graepel would work a walk and would be followed by a Mike Cavasinni single to center. Seth Baldwin would drive home Graepel from second with another single to center. Ben Bunting would follow with another single to center field which would drive in Mike Cavasinni from third and Seth Baldwin who was at second after stealing second base to give the Tar Heels the 5-0 lead. Bunting would take second base on the throw home. Corky Palmer would lift Ballinger after the base hit. His line was 2.2 innings allowing six runs (all earned) while giving up nine hits, walking four batters, and a wild pitch. Dustin Ackley would drive in Bunting from second for his third hit of the game and his third RBI. Ackley broke Sam Fuld’s CWS record for most career hits in the series. Ackley would end the inning by getting picked off first base to give the Tar Heels the 6-0 lead after three innings.
The Southern Miss Eagles would pick up their first hit in the bottom of the third inning including a walk but would not be able to breakthrough against Warren to keep it 6-0 heading into the fourth inning. Mark Fleury and Garrett Gore would get back to back one out singles to put runners on first and second. They would each move up a base on a Levi Michael flyball to center field. Both runners would come home when a Ryan Graepel ground ball would get under Southern Miss shortstop B.A. Vollmuth’s glove giving the Tar Heels the 8-0 lead.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles would get a led off walk to Corey Steven in the bottom of the fourth inning. Joey Archer would follow with a strikeout. Michael Ewing would follow with another walk to put two runners on base. BA Vollmuth would follow with a homer over the left field fence to cut the Tar Heels lead to 8-3. Southern Miss would get another single and a walk in the inning but strand the runners to leave it at 8-3 after four innings.
The score was 8-3 until the seventh inning when North Carolina would scratch across two runs on three hits including a sacrifice fly. The Tar Heels would lead 10-3 after the top of the seventh. Southern Miss would add an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning with a Joey Archer two out double which was followed by a Brian Dozier ground ball to Ryan Graepel who made a wild throw to allow the run to score and cut the Tar Heels deficit to 10-4.
Kyle Seager would hit a one out solo homer over the right field wall to account for the final run of the game as North Carolina beats Southern Miss 11-4. Adam Warren pick up the win by going six strong innings while only giving up that three run homer in the fourth inning. Warren is now 10-2. JR Ballinger got the loss for Southern Miss after only lasting 2.2 innings while giving up six runs. He finishes the season with a record of 6-4.
The most interesting thing in the game was that Dustin Ackley went 5-6 with 3 RBI and 1 run scored. Coach Mike Fox stated this about Ackley “Everyone saw today what I’ve seen for three years from Dustin Ackley. I’m glad the country had a chance to see what we’ve seen.”
Ackley also broke the CWS record for most hits in a career in only his third trip to the series. He said “Today was one of those days were I was hitting the balls into the right hole. I was getting good hits. It’s exciting to break the record. I heard about having the chance to do it, but it’s bigger for us to win the game.”
The game marked the end of Southern Miss head coach Corky Palmer’s career as he announced that he will retire at the end of the season. He said the following about his retirement “I leave it with an outstanding coach, Berry has been my associate head coach for the last six seasons and I’ve worked with him for the past 15 years. Going to Omaha, winning Regionals and Super Regionals this was the most satisfying season, it was a capper for us.”
MCWS GAME 7 NOTES
*-The Tar Heels are making their fourth straight MCWS appearance, which is the most ever by an Atlantic Coast Conference school. It is the 13th time that a team had made at least four consecutive MCWS appearances. The four straight appearances are the most since Texas made four straight MCWS appearances between 2002 and 2005.
*-North Carolina improves to 14-16 all-time at the MCWS, as the Tar Heels are making their eighth appearance in Omaha.
*-North Carolina’s 23 hits today ties the single-game MCWS record, set last by Southern California against Arizona State on June 6, 1998. Arizona State also had 23 hits against Oklahoma State on June 5, 1984 and against Wichita State on June 10, 1988.
*-Garrett Gore tied a MCWS career record with his 20th appearance on Tuesday, matching Daryl Arenstein’s record for career games set between 1970-73.
*-UNC’s Dustin Ackley went 5-for-6 against Southern Miss, becoming the 16th player in MCWS history to record at least five hits in a game. The last five-hit game in the MCWS was by Cal State Fullerton’s David Cooper, who went 5-for-5 against Clemson on June 20, 2006.
*-Today marked Ackley’s second career five-hit game, as the other came against VMI on Feb. 22, 2009
*-Ackley’s five hits upped his career MCWS hit total to 27, making him the all-time hits leader at the MCWS. He broke the previous mark of 24 set by Stanford’s Sam Fuld from 2001 to 2003. Ackley is now hitting .429 (27-63) in his career at the MCWS, a total which would rank ninth all-time.
*-Ackley is now hitting .576 (19-for-33) with two homers and 12 RBIs during the 2009 NCAA Tournament and is 7-for-11 in Omaha.
*-Dustin Ackley has hit safely in all 14 MCWS games in his career, which is believed to be an MCWS record, and has hit safely in his last 21 NCAA
Tournament games dating back to the 2007 campaign. He has hit safely in 25 of 30 career postseason contests.
*-Ackley now has 110 hits this season to rank second nationally. He trails only Braeden Riley of Sam Houston State, who finished the 2009 season with 111 hits. Ackley’s 110 hits are fifth on UNC’s single-season list.
*-Mike Cavasinni has four straight multi-hit games in the NCAA Tournament and his hitting .435 (10-for-23) over his last seven contests
*- With two hits, including his sixth homer of the season, today, Kyle Seager has 101 hits on the season, ranking ninth on UNC’s single-season list. He is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with a pair of homers and a team-high 13 RBIs in the NCAA Tournament.
*-Ryan Graepel’s four hits against Southern Miss was a career best. His previous high was three on five other occasions, most recently against Clemson in the ACC Tournament on May 23.
*-Garrett Gore is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with 11 RBIs in the NCAA after collecting a pair of hits against Southern Miss. Gore now has five multi-hit games in his seven NCAA contests.
*-UNC’s 23 hits were a season high, bettering the previous season high of 21 set against Winthrop on April 15.
*-North Carolina’s senior class has now won a school-record and NCAA-best 212 games over the past four years.
*-With today’s win, North Carolina’s Adam Warren improved his career record to 32-4 at North Carolina. He is second on UNC’s career wins list – trailing only Robert Woodward’s 34 wins between 2004 and 2007. Warren’s .889 career win percentage ties Scott Bankhead (24-3 from 1982-84) for first place on UNC’s all-time career win percentage list.
*-Warren picked up his sixth NCAA Tournament victory on Tuesday, matching Alex White for the highest postseason win total in school annals.
*-Warren fanned five Golden Eagles, raising his total to 103, which is 10th on UNC’s single season list. He also matched a career high with five walks. He had walked just three hitters in his previous four starts, spanning 24.2 innings.
*-North Carolina improves to 18-0 this year when scoring at least 10 runs in a game this season and has reached double figures in runs for the fourth time in seven NCAA Tournament games.
*-Tuesday’s win over Southern Miss was the 500th at his alma mater for North Carolina head coach Mike Fox, who is now 500-207-1 at UNC and 1,040-347-5 in 26 seasons as a head coach.
*- The Golden Eagles finished their season by collecting at least 40 wins in five of the last seven seasons and the program completed its seven-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th overall.
*-Head Coach Corky Palmer finishes his coaching career with a 960-493 record, including a 458-281 mark in 12 seasons at Southern Miss. His 458 wins ranks second on the Southern Miss career charts.
*-Southern Miss leads the nation with 83 double plays turned this season after turning a pair of double plays on Tuesday. It marked the 25th time this season that the Golden Eagles turned at least two double plays in a game. Southern Miss, which turned 11 double plays in the postseason, will finish the year as the national leader, as the second-highest total among active teams is Texas at 60.
*-This appearance by Southern Miss marks the fifth straight season that a Conference USA team has reached the MCWS (Tulane, 2005; Rice, 2006-08, Southern Miss, 2009).
*-With today’s loss, Conference USA schools have lost six straight MCWS games dating back to 2007.
*-Tuesday’s 2.2 inning start by Southern Miss’ J.R. Ballinger was his shortest start of the year (16 starts). He previous low was 3.0 inning at Florida on June 6.
*-B.A. Vollmuth hit his fifth home run of the NCAA Tournament in the fourth inning. The Atlanta Regional MVP has also added 14 of his season’s 28 RBI in the NCAA Tournament.
*-Joey Archer finished the year with 62 RBI on the season, the most by a Golden Eagle since the 2006 season when Marc Maddox collected 70.
*-The Golden Eagles have now hit 17 homers in the NCAA Tournament and have homered at least once in each of the last nine games.
*-The 23 hits were the most surrendered by USM this season. Its previous high was 22 against Cal State Fullerton on March 6.