Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 4, 2013
CHAPEL HILL — Cody Stubbs singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning to help No. 1 overall seed North Carolina avoid a huge upset by edging Florida Atlantic 12-11 on Monday night in a wild regional championship game.
Stubbs’ hit down the left-field line scored Landon Lassiter from third base to cap a game filled with momentum swings, sending the Tar Heels (55-9) spilling onto the field in a mad dash to celebrate.
UNC took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning, but gave up six runs — including a grand slam by Tyler Rocklein — to trail 8-6. But the Tar Heels tied it to send it to extras, but fell behind again in the 12th after the second-seeded Owls (42-22) got a three-run homer by Levi Meyer in the top of the inning.
The Tar Heels came back yet again, and then won it to advance to the best-of-three super regionals against South Carolina, starting Friday at Chapel Hill.
North Carolina narrowly avoided joining Oregon — No. 8 overall — as national seeds to fail to get out of the regional round.
The win came barely a week after North Carolina needed 18 innings to beat rival North Carolina State in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. On this night, the Tar Heels used six pitchers — including regional-game starters Kent Emanuel, Benton Moss and Hobbs Johnson — before reliever Reilly Hovis (4-0) earned the win by striking out Rocklein to end the top of the 13th.
The Tar Heels started the year 39-2 and won the ACC tournament title, but barely avoided suffering consecutive losses for the first time all season. Florida Atlantic edged North Carolina 3-2 on Sunday to force Monday night’s decisive game.
Reliever Michael Sylvestri (4-3) took the loss after allowing three hits and the winning run in 1 1/3 innings.
The game was delayed for two hours due to heavy rain and didn’t wrap up until after 1 a.m. Tuesday.