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May 16, 2013Kent Emanuel didn't have his ace stuff Thursday night against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Emanuel gave up six runs over five innings while allowing 10 hits. His best inning was the second, where he gave up no runs and looked like he had new life after surrendering a 2-0 lead.
UNC was able to tie the game, 2-2 after a solid bottom of the second. It looked like UNC's bats gave their star pitcher new life, but Emanuel never found his groove from the third inning on.
"They were able to just string a bunch of hits together," said Emanuel after the game. "It just sucked."
He gave up two runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings, allowing Virginia to extend their lead to 7-4, before being replaced by Trevor Kelley.
"We'll come out tomorrow. We'll respond well. We always have," said Emanuel. "We have a great team and there is no doubt in my mind we'll go out and win these next two."
If any UNC fans out there are thinking that maybe the pressure of being able to clinch the conference crown with a win tonight was playing a factor in Emanuel's performance, think again.
"Obviously it was big to come out here and get the win. In terms of the ACC, it had no factor. I didn't even know (that)," admitted Emanuel. "So cool. Maybe we'll come out tomorrow and get it."
"This has been the most kind of coasting for a season that we've had since I've been here," said Emanuel. "We've always been a team that's responded well and I expect this year's team to do the same."
Virginia came into the first game of a three game weekend series with a 43-8 (20-7 ACC) record while looking to take over the ACC lead from the Tar Heels.
Thursday night they got their 44th victory of the season.
The Tar Heels had a chance to make some noise in the bottom of the sixth. They managed to load the bases with two outs, setting a potential game-changing at-bat for lead-off man Chaz Frank.
But the opportunity was squandered when Frank flew out to center field, making it three straight scoreless innings for the Tar Heels hitters to that point.
In the seventh, it looked like Virginia was going to score again. But with one out, Brandon Downes flew out to center field allowing Frank to redeem himself by gunning down the runner attempting to score at the plate on a sacrifice fly.
UNC got things going again at the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
Leading off the inning, Landon Lassiter drilled a ball between third and short for a single.
After a fly out to the outfield from Colin Moran and a line-out to right from Skye Bolt, it appeared Lassiter might end up stranded at first in another scoreless inning for the Tar Heels.
As it turned out, that would be the case.
Stubbs was unable to do anything with his at-bat, grounding out to first.
While many of his teammates struggled, Lassiter went 4-5 and kept the Tar Heel offense from being completely shut down.
"Things didn't go our way," said Lassiter. "We've just got to try and win tomorrow and then win the series on Saturday."
Lassiter emphasized that baseball is still a team game and that tonight's performance shouldn't be an indictment on the Tar Heel line-up.
"As a DH my job is to get on for Stubbs and Skye," said Lassiter. "Tonight we just came up short. I think we'll be fine tomorrow."
After one inning held scoreless, Virginia got right back on it at the plate, scoring two more runs in the eighth and another run in the ninth to extend the lead 10-4.
Virginia shut out UNC for the last six innings of the game and took the momentum early from the Tar Heels in the series.
UNC will continued to host the Cavaliers on
Friday night at 7 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.