CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—No. 1 seed North Carolina has had trouble all year turning double plays. In fact, coach Mike Fox said his team had been saving them up.
The Tar Heels unleashed the double-play ball Friday night in downing No. 4 seed Dartmouth in the opening-round game of the Chapel Hill Regional, 5-2.
Four times, UNC turned two. That's a season-high for the Tar Heels, who made sure that six Dartmouth runners were left on base. Three times Dartmouth grounded into inning-ending double plays.
And while a heap of credit has to go to starting pitcher Matt Harvey, the real architect was freshman second baseman Levi Michael. Michael made a pair of spectacular defensive plays, and while he did have the only error of the game, he certainly made up for it.
Brian Moran, UNC's lefthanded reliever, had another solid outing, striking out five of nine batters in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Dartmouth briefly threatened in the seventh inning, scoring two runs, including one on Brett Cardner's solo home run. And when Dartmouth put runners on second and third with two more hits and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate, UNC looked to be in trouble.
But all the Big Green could manage was a sacrifice fly before ending the inning on Jeff Onstott's swinging strikeout.
In fact, UNC's defense was so solid that Dartmouth didn't manage a single hit with runners in scoring position.
Dustin Ackley, the likely No. 2 pick in the draft, kept right on hitting Friday night. Ackley went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and his third hit, a double in the eighth inning, made him UNC's career leader in hits with 329.
"There's probably not enough adjectives," Fox said when asked to describe Ackley's performance. "I'm just happy he's a Tar Heel and that I've been able to stand on that third-base box and watch every one of (Ackley's 200 career games)."