Cary Regional Preview

The Tar Heels begin NCAA Tournament play Friday, hosting the four-team regional at the USA Baseball Training Facility. Get ready for the regional with this Inside Carolina preview ...

Friday, May 30

Game 1: #2 UNC Wilmington (42-15-1) vs. #3 Elon (43-16), 2 p.m.
Game 2: #1 North Carolina (46-12) vs. #4 Mount St. Mary's (21-32), 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 31
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 5 p.m.
Sunday, June 1
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 5 p.m.
Monday, June 2
Game 7: 1 p.m. - IF NECESSARY (If Game 5 winner also wins Game 6)


Overview: The Seahawks (42-15-1, 25-4-1 conference), under veteran head coach Mike Scalf, head into the Cary Regional as the No. 2 seed. They, much like the Tar Heels, are heading into Cary after a poor performance in their conference tournament. The Seahawks were the favorites to win the CAA Tournament and if they had won would have been likely to host their first regional NCAA competition at Brooks Field in Wilmington.

The Seahawks have an experienced and talented team and recruit the Triangle very well. Scalf stated that the Triangle area has been "very good" for their baseball roster and they have 28 in-state players on their roster. Scalf stated the importance of their senior players (nine total) to the Seahawks squad this year after their Thursday practice session, "Without that leadership and without the experience that those guys have had bring to the park every day I don't know if we would be where we are right now," he said. "Look at our offensive line-up and position player wise there are five seniors in there every day - on occasion we will have six or seven. From a pitching standpoint we've got some that are in a starting role and some are coming out of the bullpen for us. I think it has provided us some leadership and encouragement for our younger guys..."

Players to Watch: Senior catcher Mark Carver leads the nation with 70 runs batted in and ranks in the top ten this season with 21 home runs. Senior centerfielder Jason Appel leads the Seahawks on the base paths with 21 stolen bases and has hit .405 with 94 base hits while leading the team with three triples. The rotation is anchored by junior Brad Holt, who has a 10-1 record with a 3.30 earned run average and has struck out 92 batters.


Overview: The Phoenix (43-16, 19-8 conference) head into the tournament on a hot streak, winning its last nine games while scoring 119 runs in those nine games. It won the Southern Conference Tournament and are the No. 3 seed in Cary. The Phoenix return to Cary for the second time this season as it defeated the Tar Heels, 2-0, on April 8 earlier this season. The offense has surpassed a number of school records with 78 home runs, 526 runs, 478 runs batted in and 452 strikeouts pitched. Elon is also 12 stolen bases away from surpassing its school record of 164 stolen bases on the season.

Players to Watch: Junior starting pitcher Steven Hensley was named to the Roger Clemens Award Watch List with his 10-1 record and 3.34 earned run average. He has held opposing batters to a .219 average while striking out 97 on the season. Junior outfielder/pitcher Cory Harrilchak from Cary has batted .428 with 11 home runs and leads the team with 70 runs scored and is perfect in his 23 stolen base attempts. Junior outfielder Chris Dove leads the team with 38 stolen bases, while infielder Chase Austin leads the team with 17 home runs.


Overview: The Mount (21-32, 13-11) head into postseason play as a No. 4 seed after winning its conference tournament from the losers bracket - four straight games in Atlantic City. Tar Heel basketball fans sports fans may recall that UNC and Mount St. Mary's met in the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in March The Mount baseball team struggled woefully out of the gate, starting the year 0-15. Mount St. Mary's is the sixth smallest NCAA Division I school with a full time enrollment of only 1,528 students.

Players to Watch: Senior first baseman Josh Vittek has provided the power for the Mount all season, leading the team and the Northeast Conference with 19 home runs, 62 runs batted in and a .714 slugging percentage. He also has a team high batting average of .366. Senior right fielder Ryan Murray is second on the team with 10 home runs and senior shortstop Drew Councelman has scored a team high 41 runs. Unlike the other three teams in this regional, the Mount does not often utilize the stolen base as part of its offense; Councelman leads the team with eight stolen bases.


Rob Wooten

On working on his slider with Coach Forbes after the ACC tournament -
"I have been short-arming [the slider] a little bit, but it is all fixed now and it is back to normal. I am ready to go."

On the high number of players on the other teams from the state of North Carolina
"I am familiar with some of them, I don't really know too many of them. I know they are good players - they are going to give us their best shot and they are here for a reason..."

Alex White

On the state of the bullpen heading into regionals -
"Those guys can't be perfect all year; they have been great. We have complete confidence in all of those guys. That was just something that happened [at the ACC Tournament], they are working as hard as everyone else. We have no problem giving them the ball, there is no confidence lost in them and they know that."

On working on getting back to Omaha -
"We are just looking forward to the challenge. We have been there the past two years and we know how much fun it is. We just want to get back there and it is going to be a lot of fun to see what happens."

Chad Flack

On the other teams in the Cary regional -

"They are good teams, they bring different things to the table and they have a lot of guys from the North Carolina area and they are going to want to beat us pretty bad. We are going to have to come out and play our best and if we don't bad things are going to happen, so we are going to have to bring our 'A' game."

Mike Fox

On putting in perspective what it'd mean to make a third straight World Series -

"I don't want to think about that, but I'm just glad we're in the position that we're in, in terms of playing at home - and we think it's an advantage playing at home, history will tell you that. We've just got to be careful about the mindset ... but I've told our guys that I think we're going to get there, because I want to plant that in their head. And then we need to just go out and play. My biggest concern about my team is that we're going to try too hard - we're going to want to get there too badly. If you try too hard at this game, it backfires on you. ... "

On the type of turnout and fan support expected this weekend -
"Our crowds have been good here, especially at the end. We've got to get basketball over and we've got to get the NBA Playoffs over and I wish someone would sweep the Stanley Cup in four -- let's get the center of attention where we want it here. Our crowds have been good and they've learned that cheering helps us instead of waiting for us to do something and then cheer. The weather is going to be great and I think people will come out."

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