Heels Win Opener over MSMU, 16-8

CARY, N.C. --- The relief pitching woes have not yet been resolved, but the Tar Heel batters took matters into their own hands Friday night at the USA Baseball Complex, as UNC defeated Mount St. Mary's, 16-8, in its NCAA Tournament Regional opener.

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"It wasn't the cleanest win for us," UNC coach Mike Fox said, "but it was a win and this time of the year that's all you care about."

The Tar Heels (47-12) jumped out to a commanding 10-1 lead early, with a two-run double by Tim Fedroff in the first inning, RBIs hits for Fedroff and Dustin Ackley in the second, three doubles producing four runs in the third, and a two-runner homer by Seth Williams in the fourth.

"The Carolina hitters did a great job," said Mountaineers coach Scott Thompson, whose club also totaled four errors and a number of other miscues chasing balls in the USA Baseball Facility's spacious outfield. "They made adjustments right away … they're just a good ballclub one through nine."

Fox went to the bullpen early, pulling starter Matt Harvey (3 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB) in favor of Tyler Trice, who breezed through the fourth inning, before he and his fellow relievers ran into trouble. Mount St. Mary's scored six runs over the next two innings off of Trice, Patrick Johnson and Nate Striz, before Rob Wooten came in to get a much-needed bases-loaded fly out to end the sixth.

"Probably in hindsight I should have let [Harvey] throw one more inning, but we were up [8-1] and we trust our bullpen," Fox said. "It is a little concerning … but we've got to trust our guys…"

While the 10-7 score quieted most of the 2,836 fans in attendance, it certainly didn't silence the Tar Heel bats. UNC answered the Mountaineers' four-run top of the sixth with four runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Graepel opened the rally with a one-out double to right center, Ackley tripled to left center, Kyle Shelton reached first on a safety squeeze and then a Fedroff hit on the ground to left center slipped past the outfielders and Fedroff came all the way home (ruled a double and fielding error) to put the Heels up by a comfortable 14-7 margin.

"We know top to bottom in our lineup we can produce really at any time," said Fedroff, who hit 4-for-4 and drove in six RBI on the night. "They put some pressure on us to produce that inning and we had some guys step up and get some big hits."

Fedroff and Ackley (4-for-5, 3 RBI) were the headliners in the 16-run effort, which set a school NCAA Tournament record.

"I don't know why they're not the No.1 team in the nation," Thompson said. "I'm sure you'll be seeing them in Omaha."

The Tar Heels play next on Saturday at 5 p.m. against UNC-Wilmington, which defeated Elon, 5-2, in Friday's afternoon contest.

"I think now when you get into the winner's bracket games you better be good in all phases," Fox said. "So we're going to need to pitch better tomorrow, our relievers will need to be better and hopefully we'll keep swinging the bat."

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