The number one overall seeded North Carolina Tarheels will face the South Carolina Gamecocks in a best of three series at UNC’s Boshamer Stadium, with the winner advancing to Omaha. The Tarheels and Gamecocks are scheduled to play their first game on Friday at 1:00pm, the second game will be on Saturday at 12:00pm and if necessary the third game will be played on Sunday at 1:00pm but Tropical Storm Andrea might have something to do with changing that. UNC is pushing for the ACC’s first college baseball national championship since the 1955 when Wake Forest brought home the title.
UNC is hosting again only this time it’s the Super Regional, after advancing past Florida Atlantic University in a nail-bitter. Going into the Chapel Hill regional the Tarheels were one of the hottest team in the country. With this being their 28th appearance in the NCAA tournament, UNC is in position of being a strong team with experience on the national stage. At their regional, the Tarheels were able to win their first two games with ease but got stopped in their tracks in the first Regional Championship Game by FAU to force a winner take all game on Monday. Both teams battled back and forth in an epic game until finally in the bottom of the 13th inning when Cody Stubbs hit the walk off single to left to give UNC the 12-11 win and the right to advance the Super Regional. Their ability to come back at the end of games when they are down makes them a huge threat to any team in the nation. North Carolina has a plethora of talented players that will make a significant impact on not only this series but for the future. Leading the team is their very talented junior third baseman Colin Moran, who is batting .348 with 13 homeruns and 86 RBIs to go along with being named as one of three finalists for USA Today’s Golden Spikes award. Moran’s 80+ RBIs leads the nation along with second-team All-American honors makes him one of the best players in the country as well as a player to watch throughout this series. UNC also has some other talented players such as freshmen sensation Skye Bolt who has been nothing short of phenomenal this season with an average of .341 with six homeruns and 49 RBIs. The Tarheel’s best hitter by far is senior first baseman Cody Stubbs who tallied up 76 RBIs, six homeruns, and a team high batting average of .372 along with third-team All-American honors. Junior pitcher Kent Emanuel was the only Tarheel to receive first-team All-American honors with his 2.11 ERA and leads the ACC with 10 wins. Look for Emanuel and company to look to start hot and get another early win. Coach Mike Fox leads with his 15 years of experience as UNC’s head coach and look for the coach to push this very talented UNC team deeper into this tournament
The University of South Carolina and their first year head coach Chad Hollbrook will take on the number one overall ranked team UNC in Chapel Hill. The Gamecocks seemed to have a boost in their energy level coming into the tournament, working through the Columbia (SC) regional to advance to the Super Regional. This is the fourth consecutive season and 11th in the last 14 years (only Florida State has more with 12) the Gamecocks have advanced to a best of three Super Regional. South Carolina is on a hot streak extending their win streak to 27 at home after defeating Liberty 6-4 in the final game of the regional. Lucky for UNC, the Gamecocks will travel to Chapel Hill. Liberty second baseman had this to say, “They’re near impossible to beat here” following Liberty’s loss to South Carolina at the Columbia Regional. DH LB Dantzler will be a key factor to keep an eye on with his team leading 15 homeruns, and 51 RBIs to go along with his .322 batting average. Dantzler hit the ball well for the Gamecocks vs. Liberty picking up two RBIs prior to the suspension on Sunday. Joey Pankake will also be a slugger to keep an eye on with his .313 batting averge, 39 RBIs, and ten homeruns. Finally, the last player to watch is Grayson Greiner who has an average of .304 to go along with his 35 RBIs and four homeruns.
Head coach Chad Holbrook has been under the microscope all season with South Carolina coming off Former coach Ray Tanner’s two CWS wins in 2010 and 2011 along with finishing second at Omaha last year. Coach Holbrook and the Gamecocks are just two wins away from going back to the College World Series. This match-up should be a thriller as both North Carolina and South Carolina are very talented teams with the players that can make that final push to make it to College World Series.
I predict that UNC and South Carolina will split games one and two with UNC winning the third and final game to advance to the College World Series.