College World Series: North Carolina 3, Texas 0
By Eric Olson
OMAHA, Neb.— The games keep getting bigger for North Carolina, and Kent Emanuel keeps getting better.
The freshman left-hander pitched the first complete-game shutout at the College World Series in five years in a 3-0 victory that eliminated Texas on Monday.
Emanuel limited the Longhorns to four singles in his third win of the NCAA tournament and first career shutout.
The 19-year-old Emanuel showed plenty of maturity in methodically and coolly keeping the Longhorns off balance with changeups and curves when they were sitting on fastballs.
“Other than his left arm, that’s his best trait, his demeanor,” Carolina coach Mike Fox said. “You don’t see a lot of emotion out of him. That’s what you want when you’re on the mound, especially on this stage.”
North Carolina’s offense, which couldn’t get timely hits in an opening loss to Vanderbilt, produced enough to support Emanuel.
Jacob Stallings hit a two-run single in the third inning and Ben Bunting finished a four-hit day with an RBI double in the ninth for the Tar Heels (51-15), who play Vanderbilt or Florida on Wednesday.
Texas (49-19) went two games and out for the second time in 25 CWS appearances since 1966 and for the fourth time in its record 34 trips to Omaha. The last time was in 2000.
“We didn’t come here to be the first team to leave,” Texas shortstop Brandon Loy said. “You’re never going to be satisfied, I don’t think, unless you come out of here with a national championship. We did some amazing things with this team. It’s tough to leave now.”
Emanuel (9-1) walked one and struck out five. North Carolina’s Robert Woodard pitched the last shutout here, blanking Clemson in 2006. The last freshman to do it was LSU’s Brett Laxton in 1993 against Wichita State.
“It was a brilliantly pitched game by their pitcher,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “He was terrific. He got three pitches over. He used them in different count spots where he would lead guys off of changeups. He’d lead guys off with breaking balls. He’d lead guys off with fastballs and he had command throughout the game from beginning to end.”
The Longhorns’ offense struggled in their two CWS games, going three-up, three-down in 11 of 18 innings against Florida and North Carolina.
They twice ran themselves out of innings Monday, with Jonathan Walsh getting doubled off in the second and Mark Payton in the fourth.
“Any time we can end the inning on double play and get two for one is always big,” Emanuel said. “That’s just credit to our outfielders today. Those are two uncommon double plays, and I was fortunate to have two of them.”
North Carolina fans, including basketball coach Roy Williams, began chanting “Heels, Heels, Heels” after Bunting’s double in the top of the ninth, and they applauded as Emanuel emerged from his dugout to start the bottom half.
Fox never considered taking Emanuel out. Pitching coach Scott Forbes wouldn’t let him anyway.
“We can tell when he’s feeling it and he’s throwing a lot of strikes,” Fox said. “We wanted him to go back out there. Kent would have probably tried to strangle me anyway if I tried to take him out. I think he deserved to finish that game.”
Emanuel needed only nine pitches to finish off the Longhorns, getting Tant Shepherd to pop out to first, Mark Payton to ground out and Brandon Loy to fly out to right.
The Tar Heels left a season-high 16 runners on base against Vanderbilt on Saturday, and they stranded runners at the corners in the first inning against Texas.
But Stallings came through with the bases loaded in the third, delivering a two-out single for a 2-0 lead.