Tar Heels collar Bulldogs
By By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. — North Carolina cobbled together a six-run sixth inning to beat Mississippi State 8-5 in the College World Series on Friday night.
The Tar Heels spotted the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead before rallying with four hits, two hit batters, a walk and an error to chalk up their fifth come-from-behind victory in six NCAA tournament games.
North Carolina (54-13), the 2006 CWS runner-up and No. 3 national seed, meets No. 2 Rice (55-12) Sunday. Mississippi State (38-21) plays Louisville (46-23) in a Sunday elimination game.
The Tar Heels, who entered the sixth down 4-2, sent 11 batters to the plate against MSU starter Justin Pigott (7-7) and two relievers. A fielding error by third baseman Russ Sneed and Benji Johnson’s RBI double tied it, then John Lalor hit Reid Fronk with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the go-ahead run.
Tim Federoff’s sacrifice fly and Dustin Ackley’s two-run single gave North Carolina a four-run lead.
Adam Warren (11-0), normally a starter, turned in the longest relief performance of his career after starter Robert Woodard got roughed up. Warren allowed three hits while holding the Bulldogs scoreless in 4 1-3 innings.
Wooten and star closer Andrew Carignan combined to allow only one hit after Mitch Moreland homered off Wooten in the seventh. Carignan, who worked a perfect ninth, earned his third save of the tournament and 16th of the season.
Mississippi State, trying for its first win over North Carolina in four NCAA tournament games since 1989, chased Woodard in the second inning. The Tar Heels’ career wins leader went just 1 2-3 innings, the shortest outing in 51 career starts.
Sneed’s two-run double highlighted Mississippi State’s four-run second inning. Woodard left after facing 12 batters and allowing seven hits.
It was the second straight poor start for Woodard in the CWS. Last year he lasted just three innings, giving up four runs on six hits, in an 11-7 loss to Oregon State in Game 2 of the championship series.
Pigott, who has two wins in the national tournament, gave up eight hits and six runs, four earned, in 5 1-3 innings.