No. 4 Seminoles win again, leaving UNC on postseason ropes
With a chance for selection to postseason play hanging in the balance, a struggling UNC team likely needs big wins against No. 4 Florida State this weekend and at Miami later this week to get into the College World Series chase.
But the Tar Heels face a possible sweep today by the Seminoles, who dominated the first two games in a three-game series by a combined 17-2 score, including a convincing 10-2 win Saturday.
“You just can’t really think about it. We know where we are. You’ve just got to come out and play hard every day, and just let it take care of itself,” said Tar Heels third baseman Landon Lassiter, whose 2-4 batting was one of the few bright spots in UNC’s self-destruction on Saturday.
“Hopefully we start tomorrow and just carry that in to Miami” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Lassiter said.
Friday and Saturday were “tough losses,” said freshman right fielder Tyler Ramirez, who was 2 for 4 and scored a run. “I wouldn’t say we’re down, I’d say we’re more frustrated. I think we still have all the confidence in the world we can win game three and make sure they don’t sweep us.”
The Tar Heels complete the home series at 1 today.
Saturday’s game was not pretty for UNC. They used six pitchers, gave up 8 walks and hit three batters, tossed a pair of wild pitches, and recorded just 126 strikes in 215 pitches.
By contrast, in eight innings Florida State winning pitcher Mike Compton (6-1), and reliever Gates Smith, who came on in the ninth, combined to throw just 101 pitches, 72 of them for strikes. They had seven strikeouts and no walks.
“We just didn’t get off to a good start right out of the gate and had to go to our bullpen way too early,” UNC coach Mike Fox said.
“And that’s a recipe for a loss against pretty much anybody, but certainly a team like Florida State is going to take advantage of every mistake you make and that’s been the case the last two days,” Fox said.
Aware that the Tar Heels are on the post-season selection bubble, Fox said “I’m optimistic we’re going to win tomorrow and put ourselves in position” for post-season eligibility. “A lot of teams right now can’t get down to the last five games and think that. We still can.”
UNC starting pitcher and loser Benton Moss (3-3) went four shaky innings, walking three and giving up a pair of earned runs.
“That’s the worst game Moss pitched for me since he’s walked on this campus,” Fox said. “He was one pitch away from coming out of the game in the first inning, so give him credit for mustering through a couple of innings,” Fox said.
Moss, a junior, loaded the bases but was saved by a double play to end the first. Fox said putting that many runners on right out of the chute set “a bad tone” for the game.
By contrast, Fox said, Compton stymied UNC batters.
“He mixes just enough, pitches both sides of the plate, doesn’t walk you. You’ve got to hit him,” Fox said. “It’s like the Florida State pitchers of old. They just don’t beat themselves.”
Ramirez said Compton “threw a little sinker and got us to ground out a bunch. We hit a lot of balls hard, but today’s wind, nothing would go anywhere. He found the strike zone and that’s what really got us.”