By: Spencer Harrison
USC will have their hands full this weekend as they travel to Chapel Hill to take on the number one overall seed North Carolina Tar Heels in the Super Regional. The teams will play a best of three series with a spot in the College World Series on the line.
The Tar Heels have the best record in the nation at 55-9. They feature the ACC’s Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in third baseman Colin Moran and Kent Emanuel.
Perhaps the most impressive feat this North Carolina team has accomplished is not losing consecutive games all year. The Tar Heels responded to their eight regular season losses by outscoring their opponents 64-13.
This streak was put in serious jeopardy last weekend in the Chapel Hill regional. Florida Atlantic defeated North Carolina 3-2 on Sunday and pushed the Heels to the brink Monday in a thrilling 12-11 game won by the Tar Heels in 13 innings.
To win that game, North Carolina had to go deep into their bullpen. The most surprising move was the decision to bring in Kent Emanuel in the 8th inning. Emanuel had just thrown 124 pitches two days earlier in the Heels’ 8-5 win over Towson. He entered the game Monday night with a 6-2 lead but he soon gave that up. In 1.2 innings Emanuel gave up five runs and threw 51 pitches, pushing his pitch count to 175 pitches in three days.
Many questioned North Carolna’s use of their bullpen. South Carolina pitching coach Jerry Myers joined Phil Kornblut on Sports Talk to discuss the decisions made by the North Carolina coaches and the upcoming matchup with the Tar Heels in the Super Regional.
This weekend the Tar Heels will be trying to re-write the schools record books. If they win the two games they need to advance to the College World Series, they will match the win total of the 2007 team, currently the winningest in the school’s history.
Standing in their way is the team that’s trying to win their third College World Series championship in four years.
The first pitch of the series is set for Friday afternoon at 1:00.