CWS Primer: North Carolina
Omaha History: 10 CWS appearances
Overview: If LSU isn’t the favorite than North Carolina is. They are the number one overall seed, and their numbers reflect that. The Tar Heels offense is a thing of legend. They led the country in runs score with 524. The next closest team scored 37 less runs than the Heels. North Carolina also ranks in the top 25 in batting average and home runs. And just like LSU, the Tar Heels are one of the most balanced teams in the country. Their pitching staff ranked 16th in ERA, and their fielding percentage ranked 25th. North Carolina can beat teams on the mound or with their bats. That combination makes UNC one of the toughest outs in the CWS. The one thing going against UNC is their struggles in the postseason. They did not look like the dominant number one seed during most of their run.
Road To Omaha: The Tar Heels are the only team in the CWS field that managed to lose a game in the Regionals and Super Regionals. They are a battle-tested bunch at this point. They survived two one-run elimination games to reach the CWS.
Players To Watch:
Colin Moran: The North Carolina third baseman might be the most complete hitter in college. He set a Tar Heel record and led the nation in runs batted in with 87. He also drilled 13 home runs while hitting .335. Moran finished third in the country with 72 runs scored, and he was the sixth overall pick in this year’s MLB draft.
Kent Emmanuel: A third round pick of the Houston Astros, Emmanuel was dominating on the hill for the Heels. He earned ACC pitcher of the year honors, and he racked up 89 strikeouts in 122 innings. He compiled a 2.94 ERA while going 11-3. He won’t blow hitters away with his stuff, but scouts love his make-up. He’s a tough competitor, and he knows how to get batters out.
Take The Title If…: If the Tar Heels can regain their early season form they will waltz to a title in Omaha. At one point this season they looked like an unbeatable juggernaut. They were the clear cut best team in the country and no one was close. But they faltered down the stretch, and they have been unable to break out of their funk.
A Quick Trip If…: If North Carolina continues to play like they have been it won’t be surprising to see them get sent home. They were nearly sent home in the Regionals and Super Regionals. Emmanuel and Moran are two of the best players in the country, but neither one has produced at their highest levels in several weeks.
Why Should Omaha Cheer For Them?: North Carolina is beginning to suffer from the Florida State patented bridesmaid syndrome. This is UNC’s tenth trip to Omaha, and they have yet to leave here with a title. It would be nice to finally see this team break through and get that elusive final win.