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Tar Heel Blog has new update
1 day ago UNC Baseball: Stay Ready
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports Jackson Van De Brake proved that if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. With Game 1 of the College World Series tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Scott Forbes knew he needed to mix things up to have a chance to win. The bottom of the order was coming up, and he needed to get men on base in order to give Vance Honeycutt and Casey Cook a chance to decide the game. Alberta Osuna, dropped down to seventh in the batting order, was struggling. He was 0-3 on the day with three strikeouts. In came Jackson Van De Brake to lead off for the Diamond Heels. The senior has been in and out of the line-up after starting the first five games of the season, and only had 74 at-bats all year, with a batting average of .194. You’d forgive Van De Brake for not contributing on short notice in such a high-leverage moment. Instead, he worked the count, taking some close strikes, and then when forced to swing, ripped a sharp hit into right field that bounced off an indented wall in Charles Schwab Field that gave him time to stretch his hit into a double. Clutch pinch-hit double from TCC alum Jackson Van De Brake leading off the ninth in a tie game at the CWS!Van De Brake would go on to score the winning run for the @DiamondHeels.@jvande5 @TacCCbaseball— PNW College Baseball Report (@PNW_CBR) June 14, 2024 With no outs, Carolina had a runner in scoring position. Van De Brake gave the Heels a lift when they absolutely needed it. A perfectly placed sacrifice bunt from Alex Madera got Van De Brake to third, and after Colby Wilkerson popped out, Vance Honeycutt came to the plate with a chance to walk it off. Bosh Magic (away version) struck again, and UNC finds itself in the Bracket 1 winners’ bracket after trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning. It can’t be underscored how important Van De Brake’s hit was. If Osuna continued his slump and struck out, it’s highly likely that Virginia never had to face Honeycutt in the bottom of the ninth. Honeycutt will get the headlines for the win, and rightfully so, but let’s make sure that Van De Brake feels the love for being ready in such an important spot.
Tar Heel Blog has new update
1 day ago UNC Baseball: The Diamond Heels walk off another one and grab a Game 1 win vs Virginia, 3-2
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports The Heels’ postseason magic continues, off the bat of Vance Honeycutt once again The Diamond Heels just can’t seem to stop giving us heart attacks. In the program’s first appearance in Omaha since 2018, the UNC Tar Heels opened the Men’s College World Series by walking off the Virginia Cavaliers 3-2, with a two-out single from Vance Honeycutt driving in the winning run. It was UNC’s fifth last-inning win this postseason, but a win is a win, and this one puts UNC in the winner’s bracket early in Omaha. The Tar Heels struck first in this game, scratching a run across in the first after hard-hit balls from Casey Cook and Parks Harber got them both in scoring position. UNC only managed one run from there, but Jason DeCaro had a 1-0 margin to work with early. DeCaro fought through this start, starting with a 30-pitch first inning that he somehow got out of without allowing a run. He had a much cleaner second, but while the middle and bottom of UNC’s order floundered against Virginia starter Evan Blanco, DeCaro allowed a run to get across in the third inning through a couple of weak singles. It seemed that both teams could only get runners on via small ball, as nearly every fly ball into the outfield was getting blown into the field and hanging in the air for outfielders on both sides. It looked like Gavin Gallaher might have been able to drive in a run to put his team back on top in the bottom of the 3rd, but it hung in the air and became an easy play for the Virginia left fielder. This was trouble for DeCaro, whose breaking ball command came and went throughout the start, and he eventually exited after walking the leadoff man in the fifth. He finished with a line of 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ER, 6 K. Matt Poston was first out of the bullpen for DeCaro after his sterling relief outing against West Virginia, and while he worked through 3 outs pretty quickly, but allowed runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out to open the 6th. He managed a strikeout before the seemingly inevitable sac fly put UVA ahead, and was pulled for closer Dalton Pence, who got out of the inning without too many problems. On the other side of things, Blanco was just eating innings, getting through 6 with just 80 pitches thrown. But things started to turn for the Heels in the bottom of the 7th, after Pence mowed down UVA in 13 pitches, working around a two-out HBP. Alex Madera took the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a single, and Colby Wilkerson laid down a good push bunt to get him in scoring position. Vance Honeycutt, 0-3 on the day to this point, had a chance to be a late-game hero again, but Blanco emerged the victor of a 9-pitch faceoff and got him to ground weakly to short. The 1-2 punch at the top of UNC’s order was only half-gone, though, and Casey Cook, who was 3-4 on the day, laced an opposite-field single that scored Madera — the play might have been interesting if UVA’s left fielder hadn’t spiked the throw — and tied the game. Both teams went 1-2-3 in the eight inning, and that took us to the ninth, where fans of both squads have seen some heroics this postseason. Pence wasn’t going to let UVA have any dreams of repeating their success, though, getting through the top of the inning in just five pitches — again, the wind probably saved him from at least one extra-base hit. That meant UNC had another chance to win a playoff game walking off, and it would start with Jackson Van de Brake pinch-hitting for Alberto Osuna, who had a really off day at the plate. And the captain delivered, going the other way down the right field line for a leadoff double. Madera successfully bunted him to third with one out, meaning Wilkerson could make almost any contact and bring the winning run home. Unfortunately, he managed basically the one type of contact that wouldn’t work: a pop up straight up that the catcher took care of basically a foot behind him. Honeycutt then came to the plate with 2 outs and the winning run 90 feet away. After spitting on a couple of fastballs outside, he just missed a breaking ball over the plate to work the count to 2-1, and he wasn’t going to miss again. UVA reliever Chase Hungate threw a slider well off the plate, but Honeycutt was on the off-speed, reached out, and laced it over the infield into left, giving his team yet another last-inning victory. Both teams were known for their offenses, but got an early taste of how much this park at Omaha can just eliminate batters’ power, as the game turned into a pitching duel more than anything else. UNC got a great combined outing from DeCaro, Poston, and Pence, allowing 5 hits and 5 walks to 9 strikeouts for the two runs. At the plate, other than Cook, Parks Harber and Luke Stevenson had good days, Harber going 1-2 with two walks and Stevenson hitting two singles. Their hits didn’t amount to much other than Harber pushing Cook to third in the first inning, but their getting on base will be key going forward. UNC will next play the winner of tonight’s game between Florida State and Tennessee, which will be on ESPN at 7 PM. That game will be on Sunday. You can find an overview of FSU here and one for Tennessee here. As a reminder, this portion of the MCWS mirrors the Regional round, which is to say it’s a 4-team double elimination bracket.

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