DURHAM, N.C. - Top-seeded North Carolina didn't take long to seize control Thursday in its ACC Baseball Championship debut at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, pounding out 18 hits in a 10-0 victory over Miami that was shortened to eight innings due to the 10-run rule.
Despite the lopsided nature of the win, UNC coach Mike Fox suggested the game turned on two plays in the first two innings.
The first of those occurred in the bottom of the first when four of the first five Tar Heels rapped out singles off Miami starter Andrew Suarez (L, 3-5).
Yet, even with a Miami throwing error in the mix, UNC managed just one run before Brian Holberton stepped to the plate with two runners on and two out.
The junior left fielder drove both runners in with a sharp single, giving UNC a 3-0 lead.
"The first inning was really, really important to us," Fox said. "The game could change if we don't get the hit with two outs there."
Equally important was the defensive play the Tar Heels turned in a half inning later, when starter Kent Emanuel (W, 10-3) walked the first two Miami hitters.
But with two on and none out, UNC first baseman Cody Stubbs fielded a sharp grounder off the bat of designated hitter Alex San Juan and turned it into a rare 3-6-1 double play - with Emanuel getting over to first to finish the play.
Emanuel then finished the inning when he made a sharp pickup of Garrett Kennedy's shot back through the box.
That was the last chance for the Hurricanes, Emanuel, the ACC Pitcher of the Year, was absolutely dominant the rest of the way. He didn't allow a Miami hit until there were two outs in the fifth.
In all, he gave up just four singles and no runs in the eight innings he worked before the game was called when UNC took a 10-run lead on Stubbs' RBI single in the bottom of the eighth - his fourth hit of the game.
"They were in total swing mode," Emmanuel said. "Even if I made bad pitches, they would swing and get themselves out. As the game went on, I was just pitching to the edges and they were going to pop up or ground out."
At the same time, North Carolina's hitters were wearing down three Miami pitchers, adding two runs in the third, two more in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth to clinch the win.
"North Carolina played a great game," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "On the other hand, we didn't do a very good job and made no adjustments and our pitching was poor."
North Carolina (49-8) will be in action again when the Tar Heels face Clemson Friday night at 7 p.m. Miami (35-22) will look to bounce back against NC State at 11 a.m. Friday.
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