4th of July

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Tar Heel Blog has new update
2 days ago UNC Baseball: The Diamond Heels have been in this spot in a College World Series before
Photo by Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images This year’s Carolina team can take inspiration from a past year as they try to battle out of the losers’ bracket. In losing Sunday’s College World Series winners’ bracket game to Tennessee, North Carolina have put themselves up against the eight ball. For one, there’s just the fact that they now don’t have any wiggle room. If they lose again before the finals, they’re done. Losing that particular game also means that if they do beat Florida State later today, they will have to beat the Tennessee team they just lost to twice in order to advance. Doing all of that will not be easy. However, if the Tar Heels are looking for inspiration, they just have to look into the history of UNC baseball to find a team who pulled off that exact feat. At the 2007 College World Series, North Carolina opened their run by rallying from an early 4-0 deficit to win 8-5 over Mississippi State. Like their opening win did this year, that set them up with a matchup against the highest ranked team on their side of the bracket: #2 national seed Rice. Unlike against the Volunteers on Sunday, UNC never got particularly close to the Owls. Rice scored six runs in the second inning and ended up beating the Tar Heels 14-4. Things got so out of hand that Mike Fox put in catcher Tim Federowicz to pitch. That loss sent Carolina into the loser’s bracket. Another similarity to this year is that the Heels were then set to take on the other team in the bracket instead of getting a rematch with their first opponent. Louisville had fallen to Rice in their CWS opener, but then dispatched the Mississippi State team that UNC had already defeated. There, they got an incredible pitching performance from Luke Putkonen. After giving up a run in the first inning, Putkonen responded with six scoreless after that as Carolina eked out a 3-1 win. That led to a rematch with Rice, with the caveat that UNC had to beat the Owls twice. They did so without much issue in the first game, with Robert Woodard putting in a good game on the mound and future MLBer Dustin Ackley drove in three runs in a 6-1 win. At that point, it was down to one last game between the two for a spot in the CWS finals. Handing to ball to another future major leaguer in Adam Warren, Mike Fox got as solid an effort as you could’ve hoped for. Warren allowed three runs on three hits in six innings. Thanks to seven runs from the UNC offense over the first five innings, it looked like that was going to be enough. In the seventh, Rice scored two runs, knocking Warren out and threatened to tie up the game. Reliever Andrew Carignan came in and came up with a big strikeout to strand a couple runners. He followed that with two more scoreless innings to seal a 7-4 win and UNC’s place in the College World Series finals. While the double elimination format can be taxing, it’s not impossible for a team to battle their way out of the losers’ bracket. This year’s UNC team can take inspiration from 2007 to do so. They should just come up with a different ending should they do so and advance tot he finals.

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