North Carolina outlasts Fullerton in epic CWS win

Updated: June 17, 2006, 12:40 PM ET
Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- When Cal State Fullerton couldn't score after having five men reach base in the 11th inning, North Carolina coach Mike Fox figured it must be his team's game to win.

Turns out, Fox was right.

Josh Horton broke a tie with an RBI single in the 13th inning to key the Tar Heels' 7-5 victory Friday night in the second-longest game in College World Series history at 4 hours, 53 minutes.

The only longer game in the CWS' 60-year history was Oklahoma State's 5-hour, 13-inning win over Arizona State in 1981.

The Tar Heels survived a quirky 11th that saw Cory Vanderhook's baserunning blunder take Fullerton out of a good scoring opportunity.

"As my assistant likes to say, we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat," Fox said. "It was true. We were very fortunate to win. We dodged a number of bullets big-time in extra innings."

North Carolina had four straight singles to open the 13th against Lauren Gagnier (14-5), Fullerton's No. 2 starter who was making a rare relief appearance.

Andrew Carignan pitched an inning of two-hit relief to earn his 14th save. Matt Danford (7-1) was the winner.

The Tar Heels (51-13) advanced to a Sunday game against Clemson, which scored all its runs in the eighth inning to rally for an 8-4 afternoon win over Georgia Tech. Fullerton (48-14), which saw its 12-game winning streak end, will meet the Yellow Jackets in a Bracket 1 elimination game.

North Carolina's Mike Cavasinni singled leading off the 13th, and Reid Fronk followed with hard grounder that bounced off second baseman Justin Turner for a single. Horton singled into right for the tiebreaking run, and the Tar Heels got an insurance run on Tim Federowicz's bases-loaded hit.

North Carolina gave Fullerton an opportunity to win in the 11th after two Titans reached base on dropped third strikes.

Vanderhook drew a leadoff walk, and Justin Turner struck out but was safe at first when catcher Federowicz's throw hit Turner in the back of his helmet. Vanderhook ended up on third on Blake Davis' grounder.

When Danford sent a pickoff throw to third, Vanderhook reacted slowly and was forced to take off down the line. Federowicz made the easy tag at home.

"He just got caught off third," Fullerton coach George Horton said. "Young kids get caught up in the emotion. We had information that they use that (pickoff) play. They put that play on, executed it and Cory fell asleep a little bit."

After Brett Pill struck out but reached when the ball got past Federowicz, Danny Dorn was intentionally walked to load the bases.

The Tar Heels escaped when Seth Williams made an adventurous catch on David Cooper's fly in short right.

"That inning was crazy, and the whole game was intense," Turner said. "Both teams played great baseball, and that's what everybody came to see."

Fox said he couldn't recall having an opponent go scoreless with so many baserunners in an inning.

"That was the inning where we were very, very fortunate," Fox said. "Once we got out of that inning, this might be our game to

The anticipated pitching duel between Fullerton's Wes Roemer and North Carolina's Andrew Miller didn't materialize until after the third inning.

The Tar Heels' four runs off Roemer in the first two innings were one more than he gave up in his previous 25 innings.

Fronk homered in the first and Benji Johnson's two-run homer in the second put the Tar Heels up 4-1.

Miller, who had given up one home run in a team-leading 110 2-3 innings, surrendered two homers in the first three innings against Fullerton.

Evan McArthur homered in the second to cut the Tar Heels' lead to 4-2, and Brandon Tripp ripped a three-run shot in the third to put the Titans up 5-4.

North Carolina tied it at 5 in the fifth, with Garrett Gore singling, moving up on a sacrifice and coming home on Horton's single.

Miller allowed one hit from the fourth through seventh innings. He left with one out in the eighth, having allowed five runs on six hits. The five runs matched the most against him this season. He walked three and struck out nine.

Roemer, who gave up five runs on nine hits in eight innings, walked none and struck out six. He retired the Tar Heels in order four out of five times between the third and seventh.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press