Tar Heels split on opening day

CorrespondentFebruary 18, 2012 

— In the first game of the season, Mike Fox and his North Carolina baseball team are a sure bet.

The Tar Heels, ranked in the top 10 by nearly every preseason poll after going to their fifth College World Series in six years, went into its doubleheader with Xavier 13-0 on Opening Day with Fox as the head coach.

While Fox remained undefeated at North Carolina's helm in the opening game of the season with a 10-2 win, the Tar Heels dropped the second game 10-4.

"It was really two different games," Fox said. "I thought the first game was a matter of we didn't walk anybody and we didn't make any errors. But in the second game they beat us in every aspect of the game. They beat us on the mound and offensively."

In the first game, five Tar Heels had two hits on Friday, and three - Cody Stubbs, Jacob Stallings and Tom Zengel - had two RBIs.

UNC put together four hits in the bottom of the first inning to go up 4-0 on the Musketeers. Catcher Jacob Stallings knocked a single to right center field that scored two before Zengel followed suit with a double to center field.

In the second inning, the Tar Heels took advantage of two of three Musketeer errors in the first game. Tommy Coyle reached first on an error by first baseman Brian Bruening, then advanced to second while Chaz Frank went to third on a missed infield fly. A Chad Stubbs double down the left field line gave UNC a comfortable 6-0 lead after starting pitcher Vinny Nittoli had only recorded four outs.

Nittoli would be roughed up for four innings, giving up six earned runs and three walks while only striking out two Tar Heels.

His pitching counterpart, North Carolina sophomore lefty Kent Emanuel, went six innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs while allowing no walks and striking out three.

The sophomore, who last year was a freshman All-American, wouldn't allow a run until the third inning on a double in the right center field gap. He would later give up a home run to Seth Willoughy in the sixth.

After a 40-minute break, the teams returned and Xavier looked nothing like it did less than an hour earlier.

The Musketeers scored two runs in the second inning and three in the fifth to go up 5-0.

North Carolina made a push in the bottom of the sixth, stringing together four hits and plating three runners with the help of Jacob Stallings' 2-RBI double down the right field line.

Despite drawing the game to within a run in the following inning, the Tar Heels couldn't add more as Xavier cushioned its lead with two runs in the eighth.

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