Emanuel’s day off pays off with draft

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 09:44 PM

The first game of North Carolina’s best-of-three super regional series was rained out Friday, but it still was an eventful day for UNC ace Kent Emanuel.
At noon, the junior lefty found out he would start in the series opener against the Gamecocks, which was rescheduled for today at Boshamer Stadium (12:05 p.m., ESPN). An hour later, the ACC pitcher of the year was taken with the first pick of the third round (74th overall) by the Houston Astros in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Game 2 of North Carolina-South Carolina series will be Sunday (1:05 p.m., ESPN), while Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday at a time to be determined.
UNC was planning on starting Hobbs Johnson on Friday if the game hadn’t been postponed, since Emanuel had thrown 175 pitches in three days during the Chapel Hill Regional, including 124 during his start Saturday night and 51 in relief on Monday.
Emanuel gave up 10 earned runs over those 9.1 innings, marring an otherwise stellar junior season in which he went 11-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Even including the subpar outings this past weekend, Emanuel still is UNC’s most effective postseason starter, going 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA in six NCAA Tournament appearances.
He will be matched up against fifth-year senior Nolan Belcher (7-5, 2.25) today. Johnson (4-0, 2.09) is scheduled to pitch Sunday against Jordan Montgomery (5-1, 1.67), while UNC sophomore Benton Moss (8-1, 3.78) — the only righthanded starter for either team — would go Monday against freshman Jordan Wynkoop (7-3, 2.92).
The day off appears to be an advantage for the Tar Heels (55-9), who were the final team to finish regional play but were scheduled for the first time slot — Friday at 1 p.m. — in the super regionals. UNC used all four of its starters in a 12-11 regional-clinching win over Florida Atlantic that went 13 innings and didn’t end until after 1 a.m. Tuesday.
But both schools and the NCAA agreed to postpone the start of the super regionals because of weather conditions from Tropical Storm Andrea.
The Tar Heels are seeking their sixth College World Series in eight years, while the Gamecocks have made the championship series in each of the past three seasons.
Emanuel was drafted in the 19th round out of high school by Pittsburgh, but the Woodstock, Ga., native decided to attend UNC, where he currently owns the school record for wins (28) and innings pitched (334.2) by a junior.
Two of his teammates also were drafted Friday — senior first baseman Cody Stubbs was taken in the eighth round (234th overall) by the Kansas City Royals, and junior catcher/outfielder Brian Holberton was picked in the ninth round (257th overall) by the Astros.
Kansas City was the third organization to draft Stubbs, who leads the team with a .372 average and is third in the country with 76 RBIs. Stubbs was selected by Boston in the 29th round out of Tuscola High School in Waynesville, and then went in the 14th round to Washington after attending community college.
Holberton, a junior, is hitting .308 with a career-high 10 home runs. He has played 52 games in the outfield and five behind the plate, though the Astros called him as a catcher when they announced their pick.
Along with ACC player of the year Colin Moran, who Miami picked sixth overall on Thursday, UNC had four players selected in the top 10 rounds for the first time since 2009.
Rounds 11-40 will take place today starting at 1 p.m.