Coming in as the three seed in the Lubbock Regional, we have the North Carolina Tarheels (27-25, 18-18 ACC). UNC finished the season ranked seventh in the ACC and fourth in the Coastal division.
The Tar Heels were able to ride the momentum from their sweep of the Louisville Cardinals in mid-May to a tournament berth. Most recently, they split two games in the ACC tournament, losing to Pittsburgh before defeating NC State.
North Carolina will play UCLA in their first game of the regional at 6 p.m. CT on June 4. The winner of this game will play the winner of Texas Tech and Army on June 5.
North Carolina has a very clear ace in their lineup, redshirt sophomore Austin Love. The 6’3″ 232 lb pitcher out of Salisbury, N.C. leads all starters in nearly every category (ERA, starts, wins, complete games, innings pitched, and strikeouts).
In addition to Love, there are two other players that have recorded seven or more starts, Max Carlson and Max Alba. These pitchers have struggles to find a groove this season as they see themselves near the bottom of the team in era. North Carolina’s lack of starting pitching consistency has led to this rollercoaster of a season for the Tar Heels. These three pitchers’ stats are listed below
In the bullpen, North Carolina has five guys that have been staples in UNC’s pitching rotation as each of these players have accrued over 30 innings pitched this season. The quality depth that is present throughout this roster has allowed the Tar Heels to somewhat overcome their lack of depth in their starting rotation. These players’ stats are below.
Despite this crew being fairly well rounded with a lot of quality arms, Gage Gillian does stand out from the rest. The senior leads this group in ERA, runs allowed, strikeout to walk ratio, and innings pitched. This shows that he not only is able to perform at a high level, but also that he is reliable enough to perform at this level consistently.
From the plate, UNC has struggled this season. They ranked 10th in the conference in batting average (.259) and 7th in the conference in total home runs (65). This shows the Tar Heels as a team that struggles to generate contact, without any real consistent long-ball threats.
That being said, UNC still does have a trio of guys that I would keep an eye out for. These guys are Angel Zarate, Justice Thompson, and Caleb Roberts. Their stats are below.
Zarate and Justice Thompson are the two main contact hitters in UNC’s lineup as they are ranked first and second in hits and batting average. They give a consistent boost to the front of their lineup, whereas Caleb Rogers adds some much needed power near the middle part of this Carolina batting order. Rogers leads the team in both on-base percentage and total home runs.
North Carolina is 6-4 in their last 10 games
North Carolina is 6-14 on the road this season
These will be the first games that North Carolina has played west of the Mississippi River this season
This would be the first matchup between Texas Tech and North Carolina in baseball in the Tim Tadlock era