UNC and Vandy Put It All On the Line

OMAHA, Neb. – With a blend of déjà vu and a sense of urgency, North Carolina and Vanderbilt tangle again at the 2011 College World Series.

And this time there's even more on the line than when the two teams clashed four days earlier to kick off this year's event.

The Tar Heels (51-15) and Commodores (53-11) take the TD Ameritrade Park diamond in an elimination game at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Four days ago, Vanderbilt broke free from UNC for a 7-3 victory, sparked by Conner Harrell's go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning.

In the second round, Vandy lost to Florida 3-1 in a game interrupted by Monday's vicious winds and rain, meaning the Commodores didn't get the normal full day of rest. UNC blanked Texas 3-0 earlier Monday in a knockout game.

The pitching matchup in this win-or-go-home showdown is intriguing.

Senior right-hander Taylor Hill gets the call for Vandy and he's no stranger to pitching in season-defining games. His last two starts came in the SEC Championship Game, a 5-0 loss to Florida, and in the regional championship game when he threw the Commodores into the Super Regional round with eight strong innings in a 6-1 triumph.

Hill, picked in the sixth round by Washington in this month's Major League Baseball draft, is 5-1 this season with a 2.84 ERA.

In a bit of a surprise, the Tar Heels will counter with senior Greg Holt.

Holt is 7-1 with a pair of saves this season and all but one of his 32 appearances have come out of the bullpen. The one exception was a start against Miami on May 26 in Carolina's opening game at the ACC Tournament when he logged a season-high 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs in a game the Heels lost 7-5.

Regardless of the pitchers, the two offenses will take the field eager to shake out of the doldrums both have encountered in stretches since the series began.

After a 10-hit performance vs. Carolina in the opener, the Commodores scratched out only four hits against Florida's tandem of Karsten Whitson and Steven Rodriguez and never mounted much of a threat.

The Heels, meanwhile, have yet to break out for a big inning despite 20 hits in two games. Carolina has scored more than one run in an inning just once – that on Jacob Stallings' two-out, two-run single against Texas on Monday.

The winner of today's meeting stays alive to face Florida at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round. Whoever it is will have to beat the Gators (52-17) twice to punch a ticket to the best-of-three championship series.

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