Tar Heels headed to Omaha
By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — For the second straight year, Chad Flack homered to send North Carolina to the College World Series.
Flack’s tiebreaking two-run shot in the seventh sent the Tar Heels to a 9-4 win over South Carolina on Sunday night in the deciding game of their best-of-three super regional series.
Flack — whose two-run game-ending homer in last season’s super regional at Alabama gave the Tar Heels their first CWS berth since 1989 — came through with another crucial shot in the postseason. This time, his towering drive to left-center off reliever Will Atwood snapped a 4-4 tie.
Flack’s seventh homer of the season and first since May 19 came just in time for North Carolina (53-13), which snapped a nine-game homer drought and now will face Mississippi State in Omaha.
Playing before a capacity crowd at Boshamer Stadium that included men’s basketball coach Roy Williams and football coach Butch Davis, the Tar Heels came through with yet another postseason comeback by rallying from a three-run deficit.
North Carolina came from behind twice in last weekend’s regional, then erased a six-run deficit to win Game 1 against the Gamecocks (46-20).
Dustin Ackley, Garrett Gore and Reid Fronk drove in late insurance runs for North Carolina, which was bounced from three straight NCAA tournaments by South Carolina from 2002-04 and clinched the first consecutive CWS trips in school history.
Closer Andrew Carignan (2-1) relieved Rob Wooten in the sixth and finished the game, working four shutout innings. Atwood (2-2) pitched one inning, allowing two earned runs on three hits.
The Tar Heels trailed 4-1 before tying it in the sixth. Gore started the rally when his bases-loaded single bounced off pitcher Mike Cisco’s glove and rolled between first and second, scoring two runs and chasing the Gamecocks starter. Fronk then greeted Atwood by singling home the tying run.
Travis Jones drove in three runs to lead the Gamecocks. He tied it with a run-scoring single in the second, then broke the 1-1 tie two innings later with a two-run double and scored two batters later to give the Gamecocks a three-run lead.
South Carolina forced the winner-take-all finale earlier in the day by holding off the Tar Heels’ comeback bid and completing a suspended-game 8-6 victory.
In that game, which was suspended Saturday night because of lightning and heavy rain, the Gamecocks nearly blew a six-run lead for the second straight game but used Smoak’s 22nd homer and a key two-run double by Phil Disher to stay alive for one more game.