Heels Win Their Most Ever,
But the Trophy Goes West Again
No one is questioning Carolina’s
arrival among the elite college
baseball teams in the country.
Two straight appearances in the College
World Series finals and another record-breaking season tend to take care of that.
The queries surrounding the Tar Heels
are mostly happy ones — will the third time
be the charm, will stars with pro potential
be tempted to swing aluminum bats for one
more round — especially when it was clear
almost nobody could have slowed a red-hot
Oregon State team in Omaha.
It had been a while — 14 days, to be
exact — but that’s what happens when you
keep on winning ball games at the College
World Series. In Omaha, on college baseball’s biggest stage, the Heels rallied to defeat
Coach Mike Fox ’ 78 had a question of
his own as he got off the bus in Chapel
Hill on June 25: “What month is this?” Fox
asked about 100 fans with a wry smile.
“We’ve been gone a while.”
Mississippi State, sent an upstart Louisville
squad packing and eliminated perennial
favorite Rice, all in the span of seven days.
In the elimination game against Rice, a
Carolina team not necessarily known for its
home run prowess put on a show with
four balls hit out of the yard in a 7-4 win
over the Owls to advance to the finals for
the second year in a row.
It was in the championship series that
the Heels finally met their match. Oregon
State breezed through its side of the
bracket to set up a rematch of last year’s
final, only the second time that’s happened
in the College World Series’ 61-year history. Oregon State won the opening game
SARAH MCCARTY ’ 96
ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS
11-4, reminiscent of last year when Car- The emotional roller coaster of the late post-season: Coach Mike Fox ’ 78 ( 30), leads a celebra-
olina took the first game. tion; reality sinks in against Oregon State; spirits rise again when the team gets home.
But last year the Beavers stormed back
and won the last two games to take the title;
the Heels could not duplicate that. Oregon
State put the kibosh on any hope of a
comeback with a 9-3 victory in the second
game, making them the fifth team in history
to win back-to-back national titles.
UNC was swept in the best-of-three by
a Beavers squad that held a lead in 69 of its
last 70 innings played. The only time the
Heels were ahead was when Dustin Ackley’s RBI single gave them a 1-0 lead in
the first inning of Game 2. And though
they had shown their resiliency in dramatic
come-from-behind wins over Western Car-
olina, East Carolina, South Carolina and
Mississippi State, there just wasn’t enough
magic left for one last rally.
Everyone in a Tar Heel uniform was
disappointed to come short again, but the
ride home from Omaha gave the group
time to reflect on a season of 57 victories,