CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Riding a five-game winning streak, the Tigers face their toughest challenge of the season when the Colonial Athletic Association champions play the top-ranked team in the nation, North Carolina, in the second round of the NCAA Regionals at Boshamer Park on Saturday evening at 6:05 p.m.
The Towson-UNC game can be seen on ESPN3 http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/950913/ncaa-baseball-regionals-presented-capital-one-site-1-game-4 and will also be broadcast on www.TowsonTigers.com with Spiro Morekas, Damon Lewis and Dan O’Connell calling the action.
The Tar Heels, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last week, are seeking their 12th NCAA regional title this week. North Carolina has made five appearances in the College World Series since 2006. Veteran Coach Mike Fox led North Carolina to second place in the College World Series in 2006 and 2007 as well as a third place showing in 2009.
The Tar Heels seem to have a complete team. The Tar Heels lead NCAA Division I in scoring, averaging 8.2 runs per game. At the same time, UNC’s pitching staff has a 2.52 E.R.A., a mark that ranks the Tar Heels fourth in the nation.
Senior first baseman Cody Stubbs and junior third baseman Colin Moran are the Tar Heels’ top offensive players and they are both All-Americans. Stubbs was the MVP of the ACC Tournament last week and is batting .362 with 22 doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 72 runs batted in. Moran is hitting .357 with 13 homers and a school record 84 RBI’s.
Junior lefthander Kent Emanuel is expected to pitch for the Tar Heels. He has a 10-3 record with a 2.11 E.R.A. In 110.2 innings of work, he has 22 walks an 79 strikeouts. Emanuel has pitched five complete games, including two shutouts. He was named as the ACC Pitcher of the Year.
The Tar Heels, who are now 53-8 on the season, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Regional with a 6-3 victory over Canisius on Friday evening. North Carolina has won six games in a row.
When the Tigers face North Carolina on Saturday night, they will be playing against the number one-ranked team in the nation for the first time ever.
Towson is coming off a 7-2 victory over No. 23 Florida Atlantic in the first round of the NCAA regional on Friday afternoon. The Tigers are now 3-4 against nationally-ranked teams this season. Towson dropped three games to No. 30 Pittsburgh and a 7-1 decision to No. 5 Virginia. The Tigers won two of three games from North Carolina Wilmington inlate April when the Seahawks were ranked 21st in the nation.
Junior righthander Brandon Gonnella is expected to pitch for the Tigers on Saturday evening. The Tigers’ regular centerfielder, Gonnella has a 4-4 record and a 5.22 E.R.A. with two saves. In 69 innings of work, he has issued only 23 walks and has 56 strikeouts. Gonnella did not play in the NCAA opener on Friday.
After their 11-hit performance against FAU, the Tigers are batting .387 with 54 runs scored in five post-season games.
Junior rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono is swinging a hot bat in the post-season. He has a .556 batting average and a .682 on-base percentage. In the last five games, Fratantuono has scored seven runs and has eight runs batted in.
One of the heroes of the Tigers’ win over Florida Atlantic, senior catcher Andrew Parker is batting .471 in the post-season with three homers and nine RBI’s. Against Florida Atlantic, he blasted a monstrous three-run homer in the sixth inning.
The Tigers will be playing North Carolina for the 28th time. Towson has a 2-25 record against the Tar Heels, positing wins over UNC in 2000 and 2001. The teams played an annual two-game series in Chapel Hill from 1997 to 2007 as part of Towson’s spring trip. North Carolina has won the last 12 meetings.
The winner of the Towson-North Carolina game advances to Game 6 of the regionals on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The loser of the Towson-UNC game plays the winner of the Florida Atlantic-Canisius which is being played at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.