College World Series: North Carolina 8, LSU 4
OMAHA, Neb. ó Alex White kept LSU’s potent offense mostly under wraps for seven-plus innings and Kyle Seager, Seth Williams and Ryan Graepel had three hits apiece to lead North Carolina to an 8-4 victory over the Tigers in the College World Series on Sunday night.
White gave up home runs to Michael Hollander and Matt Clark leading off the first and second innings, then allowed only two singles the rest of the way.
The Tar Heels (52-12), the national runner-up the past two years, advanced to a Tuesday night game against upstart Fresno State, which stunned Rice 17-5 in the afternoon. The Tigers (48-18-1), beaten for only the second time in 27 games since April 22, will play Rice in a Bracket 2 elimination game Tuesday.
There was nothing fancy about Carolina’s performance. All but two of its 17 hits were singles. The Tar Heels scored in a variety of ways ó a wild pitch, a walk, a groundout and a sacrifice fly.
White (11-3), who has worked at least seven innings in four straight starts, left after Hollander reached on a bunt single to start the eighth. That is when LSU threatened to come back, loading the bases against reliever Brian Moran.
But the Tar Heels survived, thanks to a favorable call.
After Micah Gibbs singled to pull the Tigers within five runs, the bases remained loaded but Clark, who hit his nation-leading 27th homer in the second, struck out after Moran threw him a 66-mph changeup and 69-mph breaking ball.
Carolina then caught a big break to complete an inning-ending double play on Leon Landry’s chopper up the middle. Graepel, the Tar Heels’ shortstop, picked up the ball as he swiped second base with his foot, and then relayed the ball to stretching first baseman Dustin Ackley.
Landry appeared to beat the play, waving his arms as he crossed first base as if to signal safe, but umpire Jack Cox called him out. Television replays indicated Landry was safe by a step.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri argued to no avail, telling Cox, “It wasn’t even close.”
Rob Wooten earned his fifth save, giving up two hits in the final 1 1-3 innings.
The Tigers, who hit a season-high seven home runs in its super regional-clinching 21-7 win over UC Irvine last week, have homered in 11 straight games.
Hollander, the only player remaining from the previous LSU team to reach Omaha in 2004, lofted White’s third pitch of the game high into the left-field bleachers, just a few rows from the top.
The Tar Heels strung together 10 singles against starter Ryan Verdugo (9-4), including three straight on their way to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first. Verdugo walked in Carolina’s first run, Seager had an RBI single, and another run scored on a sacrifice fly.
Carolina added runs in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings to lead 8-2.
Fresno St. 17, Rice 5
OMAHA, Neb. ó A Fresno State team that struggled to make it to the College World Series rewarded itself with an easy win in its first game here. Danny Muno, Alan Ahmady and Jordan Ribera launched three-run homers and the Bulldogs’ amazing postseason run continued Sunday with a stunning 17-5 victory over Rice.