Brian Brown threw 44 pitches in the first inning, and even that wasn’t enough to get three outs, as North Carolina took advantage of a lot of high fastballs and Brown’s dropped pop up to rout NC State before the first inning was over. A later error on Will Wilson on a routine grounder to second helped the Heels enjoy a 10-0 lead after one, with eight, count ‘em EIGHT of those runs being unearned. Three hours later the stinker mercifully came to an end with the Pack on the wrong end of a 12-4 final.
If there was a silver lining, and there really wasn’t, it was that the Pack won the earned run battle 4-3. Way to go boys! Imagine if you had just made the routine plays!
If there was actually kind of a glimmer of decency, State did acquit itself well against soon-to-be top 10 MLB pick J.B. Bukauskas, who came in having allowed a scant 17 earned runs in 13 starts while striking out 106 batters in 82 innings. The Carolina ace didn’t get a K until the fifth and was tagged for three runs in seven innings to toy with that ERA a bit. Josh McLain took him deep, and most of the outs he did record were loud outs, including a screaming liner off the bat of Joe Dunand that caught Bukauskas flush (and of course fell right at his feet so he could toss it to first for the out).
Bukauskas lost his grip on a curve that plunked Will Wilson, which happens, but the fastball he drilled Andy Cosgrove with sure seemed to be intentional. Stay classy, Carolina. (Or go to class, Carolina? Ha, never mind.)
After Brown’s misadventures in the first (eight runs, two earned), Michael Bienlien added some fuel to the fire and was charged with the last two unearned runs of the hour-long shitfest of an inning. But, after that, the pen was pretty stellar. Austin Staley gave up just one earned run (and one unearned, sigh) in three innings, Sean Adler was dazzling, striking out five in 3.1 perfect frames, and Joe O’Donnell fanned a pair in his inning of work.
Offensively, Dunand had a triple and Cosgrove, Evan Mendoza, and Brock Deatherage all had doubles.
UNC was the only top pool seed to advance and will face Miami in the semis. Florida State and Duke, eight and nine seeds respectively, face off in the other semifinal. State, meanwhile, awaits its fate. An NCAA tournament at-large bid is assured; the question is whether the team will get a two or three seed and in what region.