Thursday, June 18, 2009
Heels, Sun Devils meet in elimination game
North Carolina and Arizona State meet for the second time in this year's College World Series (ESPN2HD/ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET). The winner will live to play another day, while the loser goes home.
Here are some things to know heading into tonight's matchup:
• Over the past four years, the Tar Heels have been dominant during the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament but have struggled in Omaha. They'll need to beat Arizona State on Thursday to avoid their lowest CWS finish during their current four-year run.
• The calling card for North Carolina during the past several years has been pitching, so it's no surprise that this year's squad has played lots of low-scoring games. UNC is a stellar 14-6 when scoring three to five runs, but it has also lost 10 games when allowing five runs or less (including Sunday's loss to Arizona State).
• The Tar Heels bullpen was almost untouchable during the first five games of the NCAA tournament before allowing four runs in the 10th inning Sunday. They rebounded with three solid innings Tuesday to wrap up the victory against Southern Miss.
• Arizona State leads its series with UNC 4-1. ASU's 5-2 win in 10 innings Sunday was the only NCAA tournament meeting between the two schools.
• The Sun Devils rely on their starting pitchers to go deep into games to win, but with nearly nine innings pitched by starters in the first two games of the CWS, the bullpen has been overtaxed.
Tar Heels in NCAA tournament (past four years)
By the numbers
|CWS pool play
>> Lost last four games after winning opener of 2006 CWS finals
Stopper Mitchell Lambson has thrown at least three innings in each of the team's games in Omaha.
• Mike Leake was leading Division I with a 1.24 ERA entering the NCAA tournament, but he has struggled in his past two starts.
After throwing complete games in five of seven starts since April 24, he failed to make it out of the fourth inning in Tuesday's game against Texas. During his past two games, Leake's ERA has risen from 1.23 to 1.65.
Mike Leake in postseason
>> Shortest outing, most runs allowed on the season