…And the Real Carolina Prevails!
In a season full of extra innings, postponed contests and 57 wins (so far), the North Carolina Tar Heels have always found a way to come out on top. After torrential rain caused Game 3 of the Chapel Hill Super Regional to be moved to Tuesday afternoon, the boys in blue showed their neighbors down south who the real Carolina is (recognized by 49 states), defeating border rival South Carolina 5-4 at Boshamer Stadium.
But what’s so amazing isn’t that the team’s postseason hopes are still alive. After all, they’ve been ranked #1 in the country almost the entire year and were the #1 seed in the tournament. No, most remarkable is the streak that the Tar Heels take with them as they set off for their sixth College World Series since 2006, and tenth overall- they haven’t lost two games in a row all season. That’s not just tough to do, it’s nearly impossible.
North Carolina hopes to continue their hot streak in Omaha, as they take on an NC State team that last took them to 18 innings in the ACC Tournament semifinals. You have to think that both teams are still recovering from that, especially the Wolfpack who went extra innings to beat Rice in their own Super Regional battle.
It’s hard not to be excited about Sunday’s game between these two teams. At 3pm, not only will the Triangle be represented, but the State of North Carolina and the whole ACC. In a year where the conference’s future was in doubt, and a founding member turned their back on history and tradition for a cheap money grab with teams they have no history with, the league has truly cemented their place in the power conference structure. Not only were Florida State and future-member Louisville victorious in the BCS season, but the league also saw Louisville win the men’s NCAA basketball championship, North Carolina claim the women’s soccer and lacrosse titles and Duke win the men’s lacrosse title among other accomplishments. That’s not half bad…it’s great!
Perhaps most important among these, however, is the league’s rise in college baseball. Most thought to be the next “big” college sport (along with lacrosse, which the ACC dominates), ACC baseball has been both exciting and successful this season at exactly the right time. As the league explores the possibility of a network, it has to face the reality that the majority of its marquee games will not be featured on its new entity at all. UNC-Duke basketball? That’s ESPN. Florida State-Miami football? That’s ESPN. Notre Dame anything? That’s NBC. But a successful baseball league is something that the execs and Greensboro can really build something off of. And the success of UNC and NC State, schools that still form the league’s “core,” despite expansion, is a huge part of that.
Best of luck to both teams because the CWS title truly belongs in the ACC this season. But since it can only go to one place, here’s to the Tar Heels and the team’s incredible journey so far. If they make it to the finals and win game one, but lose game two, their opponent better watch out- history is against them!