South Carolina had plenty to celebrate during its dominant 8-0 victory against North Carolina on Sunday. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — And so for the second consecutive Monday, North Carolina’s season will come down to one game. With a victory against South Carolina tomorrow at Boshamer Stadium, the Tar Heels advance to Omaha and the College World Series. With a loss, the season is over.
After winning the first game of a Super Regional on Saturday, the Heels suffered an 8-0 defeat against the Gamecocks on Sunday. The story of the game was pretty simple: UNC could muster nothing against Jordan Montgomery, who threw a complete-game four-hit shutout.
On the other end, UNC’s starting pitching faltered for the second consecutive game. Kent Emanuel lasted just two and one-thirds innings on Saturday. Hobbs Johnson didn’t last that long on Sunday. He pitched one and two-thirds of an inning, and left the game after surrendering back-to-back two-RBI hits.
UNC used six pitchers on Sunday. The Heels even turned to Taylore Cherry, the seldom-used freshman who started the victory against Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament title game. But through the first five innings, nothing worked for UNC. After the Gamecocks’ five-run second inning, they scored onece in the fourth inning and two more in the second.
The Tar Heels never came close to producing a rally.
So now it’s a one-game season. The Heels prevailed in a wild, dramatic, nutty 13-inning victory against Florida Atlantic last Monday. But South Carolina is no stranger to success in elimination games, either. The Gamecocks are now 8-1 in tournament elimination games during the past three seasons. They won consecutive national championships in 2010 and 2011, and reached the championship series of the College World Series last year.
Benton Moss, the sophomore left-hander, will start for UNC on Monday. He has struggled in his past three starts, and he also allowed a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning of a relief appearance in that game Monday against FAU. Tar Heels coach Mike Fox, though, has downplayed Moss’ recent performances, though.
“It’s a history with our starters,” Fox said. “We’ve watched them start 14, 15 games this year, and previous years, and pitch well against good teams in our league and on the road and at home. So you have to go back to that. You go back to the well and go back to the things you’ve seen them do well and you have to keep reminding them of that.
“And that’s what we’ll do.”