Sports

After return from scary injury, UNC's Cody Roberts has made a big impact

UNC's Mike Fox breaks down the Tar Heels 7-4 win over Stetson

UNC wins opening Super Regional game against the Stetson Hatters 7-4 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Friday, June 8, 2018
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UNC wins opening Super Regional game against the Stetson Hatters 7-4 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Friday, June 8, 2018

Cody Roberts wasn't even sure when he'd return from a serious injury he suffered in a series against Duke in May.

He was injured after he took a foul ball to the groin while playing catcher. The injury was serious enough that he had to have surgery at UNC Hospitals hours after he was hit. Roberts knew he'd be out at least through the ACC tournament.

"And I was kind of stressing I wasn't going to get back for the regional," Roberts said, "but they have good doctors here and he stayed on top of everything and I was able to recover pretty quickly."

Roberts made his return when the regional round started, seven games after his initial injury, and he was immediately placed back in the lineup. He made an impact, and the Tar Heels advanced to the super regional round where they won their first game 7-4 on Friday.

In game one of the super regional, Roberts had probably his biggest moment since his return. He hit a three-run home run over the left field wall to put the Tar Heels up by three runs in the fifth inning. It was the decisive hit of the game, because after that, Stetson never got closer than one run.

"To go out and help my team win was a pretty cool experience," Roberts said.

UNC wins opening Super Regional game against the Stetson Hatters 7-4 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Friday, June 8, 2018

Roberts, a junior catcher, who was drafted in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday, has been one of the Tar Heels' key players this year. He is hitting .281 this season, with five home runs and 37 runs batted in.

UNC coach Mike Fox said as soon as he found out Roberts was cleared to return from his injury, he placed him in the lineup. Roberts didn't look like he missed a beat upon his return. He played right field and went 1-for-4 in his first start back. He scored two runs and also made a defensive assist.

"I just think he's a big key for us," Fox said. "He does a lot of things to help us win. And I'm just happy for him, that the injury was not any more serious and he could get back and play.

"That would have been kind of tragic if he was watching for us. I know he feels pretty blessed and fortunate that he's back playing."

Fox said the fact that Roberts knows that he could have missed the tournament, has helped him.

On Friday, Roberts batted third in the lineup and went 2-for-4. Along with his home run, he had a double and a walk. As Roberts rounded third base after his home run, his teammates were at home plate to greet him. His face lit up.

UNC first baseman Michael Busch said the team was happy for him.

"The work ethic, the energy he brings each and every day, it's hard not to feel good for him when he does something like that," Busch said. "But to come back from an injury like that in a couple of weeks, and almost not even missing a step is unbelievable to me and my other teammates."

"He shows every day, he's coming to work, he's grinding in the weight room, he's coming with a good energy, good attitude every single day, so I'm happy for him."

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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