Posted: 7:00 a.m. Saturday, June 8, 2013
By Brian Barbour
#1 North Carolina vs South Carolina, 12:00 PM, ESPN2
This game was originally scheduled for Friday but rain from the remnants of tropical storm Andrea forced a postponement. That ends up being a nice break for the Tar Heels since it afforded an extra day of rest for the pitching staff. Initially, Mike Fox planned to start Hobbs Johnson in Game 1 with Kent Emanuel in the second game and Benton Moss should a third game be needed. Now that series opener is happening on Saturday, Emanuel will start in game one. It is unclear who the game two starter would be now but given Moss' recent struggles, Johnson likely gets the call in game two.
While the pitching has garnered most, if not, all of the attention from the regional, UNC's prospects of moving on may rest with the bats. During the regional UNC posted one of the most ridiculous and head scratching stats for a team that leads the country in runs scored. They had 17 straight innings of leaving a runner on base. That streak extended from the end of game against Towson on Saturday through the Sunday game versus FAU and well into the final game on Monday. The Heels did manage to snap out of the offensive funk long enough to rally twice on Monday then win the game.
Keeping that kind of offensive flow going will be critical in the upcoming series. In particular, Colin Moran, has gone through a difficult three week span where he simply has not been able to hit at the same level he did earlier in the year. On Thursday night, Moran was taken 6th overall by the Miami Marlins in the MLB Draft. It is unclear if Moran was feeling pressure or this is simply run-of-the-mill baseball slump. Whatever the case, this weekend would be a great time for the Golden Spikes finalist to show why he was a top ten draft pick.
One other note, with Matt Roberts out after breaking a finger in the final game vs FAU, that likely means Brian Holberton will catch and Parks Jordan will play left field. Holberton is a decent catcher but not a real threat to throw anyone out however, Jordan being in the lineup is an upgrade offensively. The Gamecocks are 167th in the country in stolen bases per game with 57 swipes in 60 contests. In other words they don't run a lot but with Holberton behind the plate that could change.