CHAPEL HILL --- No. 15 North Carolina begins its defense of its 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference title Friday when the Tar Heels host league newcomer Pittsburgh at 3 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium. Carolina has won seven in a row after topping Davidson 10-3 on Wednesday, while the Panthers are 4-5 after going 0-3 at the Keith LeClair Classic last weekend in Greenville, N.C. Tickets are available at the Boshamer Stadium box office and at GoHeels.com.
At A Glance
Records: North Carolina 8-3, Pittsburgh 4-5
Rankings: North Carolina is ranked No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 16 by the NCBWA, No. 15 by Perfect Game and No. 21 by Baseball America. Pittsburgh is unranked.
UNC: RHP Trent Thornton (Jr., 3-0, 1.33 ERA)
Pitt: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (Sr., 2-1, 3.63 ERA)
UNC: RHP Benton Moss (Jr., 1-1, 2.49 ERA)
Pitt: RHP Joseph Harvey (Jr., 0-1, 4.66 ERA)
UNC: RHP Zac Gallen (Fr., 1-1, 2.33 ERA)
Pitt: RHP Rhys Aldenhoven (Sr., 1-0, 2.70 ERA)
Carolina-Pittsburgh Series History
• North Carolina and Pittsburgh have never met in baseball. This weekend will be Pitt's first games against ACC competition since joining the league this fall.
Weekend Rotation Has Been Stellar
• Despite losing 2013 ACC Pitcher of the Year Kent Emanuel and MLB Draft pick Hobbs Johnson from last year's rotation, Carolina has been outstanding on the mound in weekend series.
• Carolina's three starters - RHP Trent Thornton, RHP Benton Moss and RHP Zac Gallen - have combined to go 5-2 with an ERA of 2.05 in 61.3 innings. The three right-handers have walked just eight batters against 50 strikeouts, lead by Thorntons 22/2 K/BB ration.
• Opponents have just four extra-base hits against the trio, and Carolina's staff ERA of 2.04 leads the ACC.
• They have also been efficient in going deep into games as all three starters are in the top 6 in the league in innings pitched despite only one start exceeding 100 pitches - Moss' complete game win against North Florida.
• Thornton is one of 43 pitchers nationally who has completed a quality start (3 ER or less in 6.0+ IP) in every outing this year.
Fox Hits Carolina Milestone
• North Carolina head coach Mike Fox acheived yet another milestone in his decorated coaching career last weekend. With Saturday's win over North Florida, the 16th year skipper reached 700 victories since coming back to his alma mater in 1999.
• Fox is also a member of the prestigious 1,200-win club after the Tar Heels defeated UNC Wilmington, 10-0, on April 3 of last year.
• In addition to his 702 wins in 16 seasons at UNC, Fox won 539 games in 15 seasons as the head coach at North Carolina Wesleyan.
• Fox entered 2014 as the winningest active coach by percentage in the country, and his 1,233 overall wins ranked seventh among active coaches and 19th all-time. He ranks second in career wins at Carolina behind Mike Roberts' 780 from 1978-98. Legendary Tar Heel coach Walter Rabb ranks third with his 540 wins from 1947-77.
Thornton Picks Up Where He Left Off
• Sophomore RHP Trent Thornton spent much of 2013 in the bullpen before returning to start in a win over LSU in the College World Series. Now in his second season at Carolina, Thornton has been called upon to make the move to full-time starter.
• Thornton was spectacular in his 2014 debut at Charleston on Feb. 16. The Charlotte, N.C., standout struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked none in 6.0 innings.
• Thornton was in control throughout the game, allowing no hits through four innings and going to a 3-ball count just once in 23 batters faced.
• He got his second win in as many starts Feb. 24 against Xavier, striking out six and allowing just one run on five hits in 6.2 innings.
• Thornton moved to the Friday starting spot against North Florida and was once again stellar, allowing just five hits and no runs in 7.2 innings. For the season, Thornton is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 IP, and opponents are hitting just .167 against him.
Moss Spins First CG Against North Florida
• In his first start after moving to the Saturday spot in the rotation, junior RHP Benton Moss needed just 105 pitches for his first career complete game.
• Moss allowed just six hits and one run in nine innings of work against the Ospreys, striking out four and walking none.
• The Enfield, N.C., junior lowered his ERA to 2.49 on the year and has issued just three walks in 21.2 innings.
McCue Thriving In Closer Role
• Junior RHP Chris McCue was an invaluable setup man in 2013, logging a team-high 32 appearances with a 7-1 record and an ERA of 2.13 in 63.1 innings.
• In his third season as a Tar Heel, McCue has stepped into the closer role and seen success right away. He leads the league with four saves in four chances and has not allowed an earned run.
• Making his work even more valuable is the fact that all four of McCue's saves have required at least four outs.
• The Charlotte, N.C, product was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List prior to the start of the season.
Dunbar Returns To Lineup In Dramatic Fashion
• After missing the first six games of 2014 with mono, sophomore C Korey Dunbar made his season debut with an RBI double against Appalachian State on Tuesday.
• The Charleston, W.Va., backstop then hit his first career home run in the series opener against North Florida before smacking a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning of Saturday's win.
• After just four games, Dunbar is hitting .333 with two homers and eight RBIs, more than double his freshman total of three from a season ago.