It was a great weekend, at last, for the North Carolina baseball team. The Tar Heels swept Virginia Tech – winning all three games by a total of four runs – and now they have some momentum for a stretch run that will determine whether UNC’s NCAA tournament streak lives on.
Perhaps this is the turning point that UNC has been waiting for. I wrote about that on Friday night, after the Tar Heels’ 3-2 victory against the Hokies. In that game, UNC scored all of its runs off of botched double-play attempts.
Two runs scored in the sixth inning when the Hokies’ first baseman dropped what would have been the final out of the inning – and second of the would-be double play. Then, in the eighth, the same thing happened. Skye Bolt came to bat with two on and one out. He hit a routine double play ball to second. And the Hokies failed to turn it.
“It’s nice to get a win when you really don’t deserve it,” Mike Fox, the UNC coach, said after that game.
There was hope on Friday that winning in such a strange, unexpected way might have deeper meaning. That maybe it could be a turning point in a season that has been among the most difficult of Fox’s tenure at UNC. The Tar Heels’ good fortune carried over into Saturday and Sunday, too, and now UNC has won four consecutive games – its longest winning streak in about a month and a half.
The Tar Heels (27-18, 13-11 ACC) now rank 43rd in the RPI. On Tuesday night, they host East Carolina, which beat UNC last week in Greensville. Then the Tar Heels play Campbell a week from Tuesday before hosting Florida State in a little less than two weeks. UNC, it seems, has little chance of hosting a regional, but the Tar Heels are hoping to avoid being shut out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.