Tide Dominated in Game One

For one of the few times in the last three years at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Alabama's Wade LeBlanc wasn't the best pitcher on the mound Friday night. North Carolina's Andrew Miller, who was the sixth overall draft pick by the Detroit Tigers earlier this week, carved up Alabama hitters, leading the Tar Heels in an 11-5 win over the Crimson Tide in the NCAA Super Regional series opener Friday night.

And LeBlanc (12-1) wasn't sharp.

"To sum it up in one word, I was terrible," LeBlanc said. "It was the biggest game of my year and I didn't bring anything to the table."

LeBlanc, who was 12-0 entering the game, took his first loss of the season. The eight runs were the most he has allowed in his career, and North Carolina's 17 hits were the most Alabama has given up this season.

"His velocity was down," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "He didn't have a fastball, and didn't really have a curveball."

And Alabama (44-19) couldn't touch Miller (13-2).

"There's a reason he's the sixth pick in the draft," Alabama's leading hitter Emeel Salem said. "It's hard to solve a guy that has three pitches and movement on a 97 mile per hour fastball."

The Carolina junior allowed just five hits and struck out 11 Alabama batters. After UNC built an 8-0 lead, the Tide scored two unearned runs in the seventh inning off of three North Carolina errors.

Horton was 3 for 5 with three RBIs, and Tim Federowicz drove in three runs with two hits. Mike Cavasinni's five hits were a career high.

In the eighth, Alabama got three hits against UNC relief pitching and scored three runs for the 11-5 final. The Tar Heels committed four errors.

The first Crimson Tide hit came in the fourth inning when designated hitter Ryan Rhoden stroked a two-out single down the first base line. He was stranded at first.

The only real trouble Miller faced was in the first inning, when he hit Matt Downs, the two-hole hitter, and walked Kody Valverde on the next at-bat. Evan Bush ran the count to 3-1, but flew out for the second out. Miller struck Rhoden out to strand two runners at first.

North Carolina (49-13) got on the board in the first inning when Josh Horton hit a two-run shot to left field putting the Tar Heels on the board. Cavasinni, the leadoff man who was 5 for 6 on the night, set the table for Horton by battling out an eight-pitch single to lead off the game.

"This particular team is set up by pitching," Wells said. "If that breaks down it's hard for us to win. We have to match their guy, who was very good tonight."

Alabama was in striking distance, trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning when the critical blow was dealt. It looked like LeBlanc was on his way to four-pitch inning until Spencer Pennington booted what would have been the third out. The next batter, Tim Federowicz, hit a two-run homer over the right field wall to give UNC a 5-0 lead.

Carolina added three runs in the sixth and three in the eighth inning. Alabama got three hits against UNC relievers in the eighth inning.

"The next guy (Daniel Bard) is real good, too," Wells said, "but tomorrow's another day if this team does what it has done all year I think we have a chance."


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