Diamond Scouting Report: UNC
Apr 13, 2012
Branden Kline (photo by Ian Rogol)
After spotting George Washington 4 runs in the first inning on Wednesday night, the Virginia baseball team scored 16 unanswered runs to win its 15th straight home game at Davenport Field by thrashing the Colonials 16-4. The current homestand really heats up now with another important ACC weekend series against long-time rival UNC. The opening game for this weekend's match-up is on Friday starting at 6 p.m., with Saturday's game starting at 4 p.m. and the finale set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here is a brief scouting report on the UNC Tar Heels.
UNC Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 24-9, 9-6 in ACC competition. Most recently defeated UNC-Asheville 10-5 on Wednesday night after being swept at Miami last weekend.
2011 Results: 51-16, 20-10 in ACC competition. Opened the ACC Tournament with a 7-5 loss to Miami, then beat Wake Forest 9-0 and lost to Virginia 3-2. UNC hosted a NCAA Regional at Chapel Hill and won all three games: 4-0 against Maine and 14-0 and 9-3 against JMU to advance to the Super Regional also held in Chapel Hill. UNC defeated Stanford twice, 5-2 and 7-5 to advance to the CWS as the No. 3 seed. In Omaha, the Heels lost the opening game to Vanderbilt 7-3, then beat Texas 3-0, but lost again to Vanderbilt 5-1 to complete their season.
2011 Series with Virginia: Ranked No. 1 in the country at the time, Virginia went to Chapel Hill last year and promptly was swept by the Tar Heels in a weekend series immediately prior to the ACC Tournament. UNC won 6-0, 2-1 and 3-2 as its starting pitchers and closer were outstanding.
Outlook: In 2012, coach Mike Fox began his 14th year at UNC (589-246-1 at UNC and 1,129-387-5 overall) and has built a model program in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have been to Omaha 5 out of the last 6 years and could easily make it 6 out of 7 in 2012. Like Virginia, the Tar Heels lost some significant talent off their 2011 roster. They had to replace four talented position players, one extremely good starting pitcher and two very good relief pitchers. But replacing the departed stars with new ones is what the premier baseball programs do and Coach Fox has another outstanding baseball team with all the ingredients for a very successful season. The Tar Heels started out like they were on a National Championship mission by sweeping Clemson at Clemson in the opening weekend of ACC competition. They were cruising along at 23-6, but ran into a buzz-saw at Miami last weekend where the Hurricane pitching staff was sensational and the Carolina bats fell silent most of the weekend.
Pitching: UNC lost one All-American starting pitcher in Patrick Johnson (13-2, 2.47 ERA, 113 IP) and two solid relievers in OF/P Greg Holt (7-2, 4.15 ERA, 60 IP), who also batted .397 in 68 AB, and Cody Stiles (7-2, 2.43 ERA, 37 IP). However, the returning pitchers are tremendous. The Friday starter has been sophomore LHP Kent Emanuel (5-2, 1.93 ERA, 51 IP) after his terrific freshman season (9-1, 2.33 ERA, 104 IP) as a regular weekend starter for the Tar Heels. The Saturday starter has been junior RHP Chris Munnelly (2-0, 2.92 ERA, 37 IP), who is also a seasoned veteran from last year's starting pitchers when he was 6-5 in 2011 with an ERA of 4.09 and 70 IP. The Sunday starter has been freshman RHP Benton Moss (2-2, 1.85 ERA, 39 IP).
In case a veteran fireman is needed, the Tar Heels can turn to junior RHP Michael Morin as their closer. He already has 8 saves in 2012 after posting 10 saves all of last year. The UNC bullpen has a good mix of veteran relievers and some impressive freshmen hurlers. The Tar Heel pitching staff has a staff ERA of 2.76 and has walked 116 batters while striking out 274. By comparison, Virginia's staff ERA is 3.28 and has issued 111 walks and struck out 276.
Batting/Fielding: The Tar Heels lost four excellent position player starters in SS Levi Michael, 1B Jess Wierzbicki, CF Ben Bunting and RF Seth Baldwin, along with sometimes starting OF/P Holt. But the starting position returnees are formidable and provide an excellent foundation for UNC in both batting and fielding.
All-American candidate Colin Moran returns at 3B and is batting .389; he only has made 3 errors. Unfortunately for UNC, Moran had an encounter with a locker room wall after the home loss to NC State in late March and the wall won, so his broken hand will keep him out of the Tar Heel lineup for the Virginia series and a few more. Freshman Shell McCain has been playing 3B in Moran's absence, but is batting only .190. Junior Tommy Coyle has taken over the SS spot vacated by Levi Michael after playing 2B last year. He is batting .275 and leads the Tar Heels in triples with 5. Freshman Mike Zolk was been starting at 2B this year and is batting .254. JUCO transfer Cody Stubbs has been starting at 1B. He is batting .266 and leads the Tar Heels with 4 HRs out of the team's total of 10. Senior Jacob Stallings returns at the UNC catcher for his final season. He is batting .310 and is tied with Stubbs for the team lead in doubles with 14. Very few teams have tried to run on Stallings and opponents have been successful stealing in 15 of only 20 attempts.
Junior Chaz Frank moves over from LF to CF this year and is batting .261. Sophomore Parks Jordan has been starting in LF and is batting .231. Freshman Michael Russell has been starting in RF and he is hitting .291 on the year so far. The DH position has rotated between sophomore Brian Holberton (.200) and sophomore Tom Zengel (.325) with Zengel getting most of the starts recently since both of them bat left-handed. As a team, UNC is batting .276 and has made 43 errors in the field to date for a fielding percentage of .966, with SS Coyle leading the way with 14 errors. By comparison, Virginia is batting a league-leading .316 and had made 32 errors so far for a fielding percentage of .976.
Prediction: Each ACC weekend series continues to grow in importance as would be expected when rivals play each other in the second half of the season. Virginia wants to keep its home field momentum going while trying to get some payback for the sweep that UNC applied to the top-rated team last year. UNC wants to get back to winning in the ACC after being swept by Miami last weekend in an effort to avoid falling behind Virginia in the Coastal Division standings - the Heels were picked to win the division in preseason voting.
The current strengths of the two teams provide an interesting juxtaposition for this weekend series. Virginia has displayed tremendous offensive punch lately combined with mostly good pitching, while UNC has tremendous starting pitching combined with mostly good offensive production. This series will be decided on which team can impose its strength and will on the other. As always, the opening game on Friday night will set the tone for the weekend and what a contest it should be with Branden Kline starting for the Hoos and Emanuel for the Tar Heels. With LHP Emanuel on the hill, the Hoos will go with their usual RH hitting lineup with only Derek Fisher and Keith Werman (at 2B) batting left-handed.
With great weather expected, a sell-out crowd at Davenport would be nice to see even with a great men's lacrosse game going on next door. College baseball in April - it won't get much better than this with UNC coming to town.
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