Emanuel Keeps UNC Alive

OMAHA, Neb. – Freshman Kent Emanuel elected to wait until his first College World Series appearance to throw his best game of the season, allowing just four hits in a dominant complete game performance as North Carolina topped Texas, 3-0, in an elimination game on Monday afternoon.

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North Carolina (51-15) only needed one swing of the bat to put enough runs on the scoreboard to secure a victory with Emanuel on the mound. Junior Jacob Stallings delivered a two-out single into right-center field to score two runs in the third inning with the bases loaded.

Ben Bunting (4-of-5) added a RBI double in the ninth inning as an insurance run.

Emanuel (9-1, 4 hits in 9.0 IP) earned his third-straight victory this postseason and Cole Green (8-4, 5 hits, 2 ER in 2.0 IP) suffered his first loss since Apr. 10.


Emanuel's Postseason Dominance Continues
North Carolina needed a strong performance from Emanuel for several reasons. Texas's stellar pitching staff was not going to allow a lot of runs to be scored for one, but more importantly, the Tar Heels needed their freshman sensation to work deep into the game to save their arms for the tough road ahead in the losers' bracket.

The Woodstock, Ga. native not only accomplished those goals, but he surpassed all expectations with his clinic on the mound. Emanuel threw the first complete game shutout since UNC's Robert Woodard managed that feat against Clemson in the '06 College World Series.

The rookie southpaw threw just the fourth complete game shutout in the last 20 years in Omaha. In three NCAA Tournament games, Emanuel has allowed one earned run on 16 hits with 15 strikeouts and three walks in 23.0 innings pitched.

"I thought his curveball and changeup command were what set this performance apart from maybe the rest of them," Stallings said. "Usually he just absolutely commands his fastball and throws it wherever he wants to. It seems like they were on his fastball a little bit, especially with two strikes, so we started going to more breaking balls and off-speed pitches, and I think that really had them off balance."

Bats Remain Cold
Two days after handing Vanderbilt ace Sonny Gray (4.2 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 5 BB) his shortest outing since Feb. 18, the Tar Heels knocked Cole Green out of the game after 2.0 innings, matching his shortest outing of the season (Mar. 5 against Stanford).

Fourteen of the 27 batters Gray faced on Saturday and six of the 11 batters that Green encountered on Monday reached base. But despite working into both opponents' bullpens early, the Tar Heels struggled to deliver timely hits that were so prevalent throughout the throughout the first 64 games of the season.

UNC left eight men on base through the first five innings against the Longhorns before finishing with nine total. After hitting 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position against Vanderbilt, the Tar Heels managed a 2-for-12 mark against Texas.

Texas's Offensive Offense
The Longhorns arrived in Omaha with the worst offense out of the eight College World Series participants, and the burnt orange bats lived up to their reputation. Texas managed just four runs – one earned – on nine hits in losses to Florida and North Carolina.

Against the Tar Heels, Texas added in a pair of base-running miscues and a poorly-executed sacrifice bunt attempt in squashing its small handful of opportunities.

In the second inning, Paul Montalbano stepped to the plate with one out and Jonathan Walsh standing on first base. Walsh strayed too far from the bag as Montalbano flied out to shallow left field, and Chaz Frank capitalized by throwing a strike to first base to notch the double play.

Jacob Felts led off the third inning with a single to right field. Everyone in the ballpark knew Garrido would attempt to bunt Felts over – Texas leads the country in sacrifice bunts – but Kevin Lusson knocked the ball straight to Emanuel, who turned and got the force out at second.

In the fourth, Brandon Loy laid down an effective bunt in moving Mark Payton over to second after an inning-opening walk. But Erich Weiss flied out to right field and Payton took off for the third before Seth Baldwin made a great catch, leading to a second double play from the outfield.

"We had a couple of opportunities, but they were limited," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "In two of them, they got double plays. We talked to our players about being aggressive. Both were judgement plays in which they were being aggressive, and it ended up being the wrong decision because of their athleticism."

North Carolina's pair of outfield double plays is a first during the Fox era.

Credit Frank and Baldwin for making solid defensive plays, but the Longhorns needed to be flawless offensively against Emanuel and were unable to do it.

Senior Leading at the Plate
Ben Bunting had hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games entering Monday's contest, but his move from the 7-hole to the 2-hole against Texas brought about an abrupt change for the senior from Randleman, N.C.

The move didn't affect his bat, however, as Bunting churned out four hits in his five at-bats, including the critical RBI double in the ninth inning to give the Tar Heels some more breathing room.

"Right now I'm just very fortunate to be seeing the ball well at the plate," Bunting said. "Trying to hit the first strike I see [and] not trying to get myself into bad counts. I've been fortunate to put good swings on the ball right now."

Bunting is 11-for-18 with three RBI in two Super Regional and two CWS games over the past 11 days.

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