The South Carolina Gamecocks won three games in a row at the Columbia Regional last weekend and now will travel to face the nation’s top seed, the North Carolina Tar Heels, at the Chapel Hill Super Regional.
- Game 1: Friday, June 7 at 1 p.m. ET (WEATHER POSTPONED; RESCHEDULED SATURDAY, NOON ET)
- Game 2: Saturday, June 8 at Noon ET (GAME 1; GAME 2 SUNDAY, 1ET)
- Game 3 (if needed): Sunday, June 9 at 1 p.m. ET (GAME 2; GAME 3 TBD)
The Gamecocks won 42 games this season and have been ranked as high as No. 6 in the USA Today Baseball Top 25 Coaches Poll. They’re currently ranked No. 14 but have the unenviable task of facing the Tar Heels, ranked No. 3 in the country, at home for a shot at moving on to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Here are three things South Carolina has to watch in the Chapel Hill Super Regional:
1. Avoid 3B Colin Moran at all Costs
At some point the Gamecocks are going to have to pitch to the Tar Heels’ best hitter, third baseman Colin Moran. Be very careful!
Moran hit .348 with 10 doubles and 13 home runs this season and drove in 86 runs. With an OPS of 1.035, Moran gets on base frequently and has an affinity for extra bases. Not only is he North Carolina’s best hitter, he’s arguably the best hitter in the Atlantic Coast Conference and could be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Moran’s definitely a top 10 pick.
2. Be Patient with UNC’s Ace Kent Emanuel
Junior lefty Kent Emanuel dominated the ACC this year with a 10-3 record and a 2.11 ERA and could be drafted in the second or third round of Thursday’s draft.
Emanuel isn’t an overpowering hurler with a fastball between 89-91 mph, but he’s incredibly intelligent and has above average command of at least three pitches. He walked just 22 batters in 111 innings this season and held hitters to a .228 batting average.
Gamecock hitters have to be selective and smart when facing the Heels’ ace, who six times this season allowed four or fewer hits while pitching seven innings of more in a game.
3. Never count the Tar Heels Out
When Florida Atlantic scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning of the deciding game at the Chapel Hill Regional and took a two-run lead, no one in the North Carolina dugout panicked.
The Tar Heels scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie and then had to answer an FAU three-run 12th inning. North Carolina once again scored enough runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game and stave off elimination.
North Carolina won the game in the bottom of the 13th and showed that no matter how grave the situation may look, the Tar Heels aren’t going down without a fight. And they have the tools to fight back ferociously.