CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—North Carolina is headed to a super regional for the fourth straight year after shutting down Kansas in the final game of the Chapel Hill Regional on Sunday, 12-1.
Senior right fielder Garrett Gore blasted two home runs and drove in five as UNC took control of the game with a seven-run third inning.
"We played extremely well today," UNC coach Mike Fox said. "It was a team effort, and I thought we left no doubt today."
UNC (45-16) loaded the bases before Kyle Seager and Ryan Graepel brought in three runs with consecutive singles. Three batters later, with the bases still loaded, Gore stepped up to the plate and ripped a fastball over the center-field fence for a grand slam.
"I’ve hit some a whole lot better than that and didn’t even come close to going out," Gore said. "But it went over, and I don’t even remember rounding the bag."
The Tar Heels padded their lead with solo home runs from Gore in the fifth inning and Dustin Ackley in the sixth, and added two more runs in the eighth. Kansas (39-24) broke the shutout with Tony Thompson’s solo homer in the ninth.
Adam Warren pitched 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight and giving up just five hits. The win was the 30th of his career, tying him for second on UNC’s all-time list.
North Carolina forced yet another lefthanded starter out of the game early, as Kansas starter Travis Blankenship lasted just 2 2/3 innings. In the regional, UNC has scored 19 runs on 26 hits against lefthanded pitching. That’s a huge shift from before the postseason, when the lefty-heavy UNC lineup was supposedly vulnerable against lefthanders.
"All I ever read about in the scouting reports are if you’ve got a good lefthander, match them up against North Carolina and you’ve got a really good chance to win," Kansas coach Ritch Price said. "But I think you better run a really good lefthander out there, that’s my take on it."
Ackley garnered Regional MVP honors, going 10-for-14 on the weekend. In the month of May, Ackley is batting .508 (33-65). He has 10 multi-hit games in 15 chances.
The Tar Heels will take on either East Carolina or South Carolina in Chapel Hill for super regionals. Official dates and times will be announced Monday.