OMAHA, Neb. — North Carolina's elimination game against LSU was postponed Thursday night just when the Tar Heels, leading 2-0 in the top of the first, were gaining momentum.
But they could use the extra time off to their pitching advantage.
Coach Mike Fox said he didn't know whether freshman Matt Harvey, who warmed up for the CWS game but never took the mound, would start tonight. If he were to switch to ACC Pitcher of the Year Alex White — whose ace arm should now be ready to go, after pitching UNC to a win against the Tigers last Sunday — the sophomore might then be fresh enough to pitch Game 2 of the College World Series next Tuesday, if UNC were to advance that far.
Because all of the CWS games were pushed back, any pitching rotation becomes complicated. Especially because UNC now must beat LSU tonight, then Fresno State on Saturday and Sunday, to advance to the best-of-three championship series on Monday. That means the Tar Heels need to win five games in five or six days (with no break) to win the NCAA title.
If they opt for White tonight, they could save Harvey for a
possible Saturday game, and Adam Warren (who pitched Tuesday) if they
force a Sunday game. Monday could become a bullpen free-for-all, but that wouldn't be an elimination game.
And pitching coach Scott Forbes said Wednesday that his philosophy is "win today," meaning use whatever players necessary to get the victory, then worry about tomorrow then.
Of course, the delay also gives LSU — whose starting pitcher, Blake Martin, had allowed two hits, beaned two batters, then walked home a second run — time to re-group on the mound, too. And Fresno State, which a third day between games, gets the biggest advantage, what with more time to rest its pitchers.