OMAHA–Mike Batesole overplayed his hand. I thought the Fresno State coach’s handling of his bullpen was masterful until the eighth inning, when I was very surprised he elected to leave Justin Miller in the game instead of starting the frame with closer Brandon Burke–who can pick up a two-inning save in his sleep.
Instead, Miller allowed a leadoff double to Kyle Seager, prompting a mound visit from Batesole while Burke quickly started throwing in the bullpen. But before he could get loose, Miller had to face Chad Flack, who showed bunt until the count went to 3-and-1, then fouled a pitch off. Miller left the payoff pitch up in the zone, and Flack obliterated it for a go-ahead two-run homer, sending UNC to a 4-3 win. It looked like the ball was going to hit the video board, but it landed just to the left of the board, and a mob of Tar Heels greeted Flack at home plate.
Alex White picked up the win in relief for the second straight day and has earned the win in all three of UNC’s wins in Omaha.
The Tar Heels will face Fresno State again Sunday night for the right to face Georgia for the national championship. Obviously, we’ll have plenty more on this remarkable win shortly.
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