June 16, 2006
Omaha, NE - Josh Horton's RBI single broke a 5-5 tie in the 13th inning and North Carolina held on for a 7-5 victory Friday night over Cal State Fullerton in the opening round of the College World Series. The 4:53 marathon is the second longest game in the 60-year history of the CWS.
The Tar Heels advance to face Atlantic Coast Conference rival and No.1-seeded Clemson Sunday night while the Titans face another ACC team in Georgia Tech in an elimination game at 1:07 p.m.
Ground-ball singles by Mike Cavasinni and Reid Fronk set the stage for Horton, who raised his season's average to .406 with a grounder into right field off loser Lauren Gagnier, who fell to 14-5. Tim Federowicz singled home Fronk later in the inning for a 2-run cushion for closer Andrew Carignan, who logged his 14th save despite singles by Justin Turner and Brett Pill. Matt Danford got the win in relief to improve to 7-1.
UNC is now 51-13 while the Titans see their record drop to 48-14 as a 12-game winning streak was snapped.
Fullerton left the potential game-winning run in scoring position in the ninth, tenth and eleventh innings and had Brandon Tripp thrown out at second base to end the twelfth. Reserve catcher Cory Vanderhook got picked off third base for the second out of a wacky eleventh inning that saw two Titans reach base after striking out and David Cooper flying out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Winds whipped around Rosenblatt Stadium and its crowd of 23,385. The wind was blowing out early as national players of the year Andrew Miller of North Carolina and Wes Roemer of Cal State Fullerton struggled in the early going. Home runs by Fronk and Benji Johnson helped stake the Tarheels to a 4-1 lead in the second inning but the Titans got a solo homer from Evan McArthur in the second and a two-out, go-ahead 3-run home run from Jared Clark in the third.
The Tar Heels tied the game on a single, a sacrifice and a single in the fifth and Miller and Roemer settled down and got help from the wind blowing in.
The Titans are no 0-5 in extra-inning games in the College World Series where they are 32-17 in 9-inning affairs.
Only one team - USC in 1998 - has come back from an opening-game loss to win the CWS in the past 25 years. Fullerton did it in 1979 in the old double elimination format.
Coach George Horton: "They beat us at our own game in the 13th ," said Horton. "There was too much emphasis on two individuals going in. Games are always won or lost as teams.
"I thought both teams had a great approach on Miller and Roemer. Versus their bullpen we got greedy and we hit too many balls in the air.
"When we sent Gagnier out for the second inning, the decision was made to start Miller on Sunday. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Second baseman Justin Turner: (on missed opportunities): "That's just the way it goes. We did a good job of setting the table in those innings, we just couldn't get the timely hit. They got it."
Pitcher Wes Roemer: "I was shakey the first couple of innings. My slider was too flat and they were hitting it."