Heels Rout Eagles

NORMAN, Okla. – No. 3 seed North Carolina scored four runs in the fifth inning to build a commanding lead against Oral Roberts on Sunday en route to a 12-4 blowout victory over the Golden Eagles.


Jesse Wierzbicki and Mike Cavassini provided RBI singles in the fourth inning to open the scoring, and Oral Roberts answered in the bottom of the inning with Chris Elder's two RBI single. The game didn't stay tied for long, though, as Levi Michael hit a solo home run and Seth Baldwin added a three-run shot in the fifth to give UNC a 6-2 lead.

The Tar Heels tacked on four more runs in small ball fashion in the top of the eighth to build a 12-3 margin and put the game out of reach.

Freshman Chris Munnelly (3-2) picks up the win for North Carolina after giving up three runs and eight hits in 5.0 innings of work. ORU's Dan Martony was saddled with the loss.


Digging the Long Ball
ORU entered the Norman Regional ranked fifth nationally with 98 home runs and seven bombs in the first two games have only moved the program further up the list. That school record has been aided by five double-digit home run hitters in Seth Furmanek (25), Tyler Saladino (18), Nick Baligod (11), Chris Elder (11) and Colby Price (10).

North Carolina doesn't have double-digit home run hitter on its roster, but that didn't stop the Tar Heels from using a pair of dingers to put four runs on the board in the fifth inning.

Levi Michael pushed UNC back out in front with a solo shot over the right field wall to start the inning, and then designated hitter Seth Baldwin belted a three-run homer over the left field wall to give his team a commanding 6-2 lead.

"It was a fastball," Baldwin said when asked about his home run. "I saw it and hit it. I just went up there looking for a good pitch. Just relax and swing the stick."

Oral Roberts needed its power to push Oklahoma on Friday and to upset California on Saturday, but the Golden Eagles failed to hit one long ball against the Tar Heel pitching staff.

"They've obviously hit a lot of home runs, so our goal was to try to keep the ball in the ball park and not give them the big inning," UNC head coach Mike Fox said.

Little Mistakes Add Up
Jacob Stallings' ill-advised throw to second base late in Saturday night's loss that gifted Oklahoma a needed insurance run drew plenty of criticism from the Tar Heel fan base. But while Sunday's win over Oral Roberts turned out to be a blowout, North Carolina made several costly mental mistakes in the first four innings that helped keep the game close for the Eagles.

Thanks to back-to-back errors in the bottom of the third inning, second baseman Colby Price stood on second with one out, giving the Eagles an opportunity to take an early lead.

A half-inning later, Baldwin dropped a ball into the gap in right-center, but didn't pay attention to his third base coach and turned the corner without realizing that he had teammates holding put at second and third. That poor base running display resulted Jesse Wierzbicki getting stuck in between the bases for the out.

And in the bottom of the fourth, Tyler Saladino singled to right field to move P.J. Sequeira to third base, but Brian Goodwin ignored his cutoff man and threw home, allowing Saladino to move into scoring position at second. Elder made the Heels pay for that mistake, knocking both runners in with a single to right to tie the score.

North Carolina can get away with these mental mistakes against a team like Oral Roberts, but as Oklahoma proved on Saturday, those poor plays can inflict serious damage against high quality opponents.

One Down, Two To Go
During this current string of College World Series runs dating back to '06, this Tar Heel program has seen just about everything there is to see in NCAA postseason action. One thing lacking on that resume is a regional victory coming out of the losers' bracket.

UNC did what it needed to do on Sunday afternoon, dismissing an overmatched Oral Roberts to set up its second elimination game of the day against Oklahoma at 8 p.m. ET. North Carolina must win that game to force a deciding Game 7 on Monday night at 8 p.m.

The Tar Heels will start RHP Jimmy Messer (2-1, 3.86 ERA), while Oklahoma will start RHP Bobby Shore (8-4, 4.52 ERA).

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