Top-seeded North Carolina is still alive at the College World Series after shutting out North Carolina State Thursday night, 7-0. After losing to the Wolfpack last Sunday, the Heels bounced back to beat their rival's ace pitcher.
As Tar Heel and Wolfpack supporters mixed in with the fans who entered the the stadium behind home plate, they immediately felt the 22 mile-an-hour breeze in their face. Tar Heels coach Mike Fox also noticed it.
"Yeah, you can see the flags. There was no doubt it was going to be a pitcher’s night," Fox said.
And it was for seven innings. The Tar Heels touched Wolfpack starter Carlos Rodon for single runs in the fourth and the fifth, which Fox felt was a big lift considering the incoming wind.
"I think that’s why the first run that was scored, everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, somebody got a run,'" hes said.
That was enough for Heels starter Hobbs Johnson, a junior from Rocky Mount. The Heels tacked on five more runs in the final two innings against Wolfpack relief pitching. Under coach Elliott Avent, the Wolfpack’s first trip to the College World Series since 1968 was over.
"I know these guys. They’re proud. We just talked in the locker a little bit. We’ve got a proud group of men in there," Avent said.
The Tar Heels play UCLA at 8 p.m. Friday. UCLA is in the winner’s bracket, meaning North Carolina must beat the Bruins twice to advance to the World Series finals, which starts next Monday. If the Heels win Friday's game, they’ll play again Saturday night.