Tar Heels' seniors go 4-for-4

UNC knows way to Omaha

Staff WriterJune 8, 2009 

— Garrett Gore's last at-bat at Boshamer Stadium was a home run to dead center.

Adam Warren struck out his seventh batter before coming off the field after a seven-inning outing that resulted in his 31st career victory.

Mike Cavasinni can forever think of his two diving catches in center field during the sixth inning, and Mike McKee will never forget the feeling at the bottom of North Carolina's post-victory dogpile.

For North Carolina's four seniors, Sunday's super regional-clinching win against East Carolina, a 9-3 victory that sends them to the College World Series for the fourth time in their careers, was one to remember.

"It's what every college player wants to do, is to make it to Omaha. And we've been so blessed for four years to make it back," said Cavasinni, who will return next year after taking a redshirt season last year. "And there's really nothing else you can say but that we're just living the dream right now."

It seemed each of the seniors, including student manager Tyson Lusk, was in a daze in the dogpile following the win, and Gore was still entangled in a bear hug with coach Mike Fox when his teammates doused him with a Gatorade bath.

Many of the Tar Heels who probably won't return next year -- including major league draft prospects from the junior class, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, as well as the seniors -- received standing ovations as they left the field after their last at-bats or last pitches at Boshamer Stadium on Sunday.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Warren said of the ovation. "Our crowd has been great all year, and for them to do that for us was really special and emotional for me. I'm sure it was for the other guys.

"You kind of reflect on your four years here at Carolina in a flash like that."

Warren and the other seniors became the first class in ACC history to make four consecutive trips to Omaha, joining only nine other teams in NCAA history -- including Miami, which twice went four straight seasons before joining the ACC.

"They're the reason we were able to accomplish what we did today, and certainly the last four years," Fox said of his senior class. "Words just can't describe the ride that we've been on, and I'm so happy for our team and certainly for these guys up here, and for Adam, and certainly for Dusty and Kyle, the guys who more than likely won't be back."

The Pirates said goodbye to six seniors after Sunday's game, as well -- "Don't ask me about them, because Tom Hanks said there's no crying in baseball," ECU coach Billy Godwin said -- including starters Stephen Batts, Brandon Henderson, Drew Schieber and Ryan Wood.

"I mean, what they meant to me has been amazing," Wood said of his senior classmates. "Growing up with them ... playing with them the last four years. and then what they meant to East Carolina, I mean, I think a ton. I hope so, at least."

Now the Tar Heels' seniors have one more chance to do the one thing they haven't been able to accomplish in their careers: bring home a national championship.

"We've got a great group of guys and a great senior class. We've been playing with these guys for a long time and to be able to have the opportunity to go back again is amazing," McKee said. "I definitely thought we would from the start, but we're just now beginning to play our best baseball, so I'm going to be excited to see what the outcome is."

rachel.ullrich@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8925

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service