CHAPEL HILL, NC (UNC Athletic Communications) – Caden O’Brien pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Josh Hiatt got Brooks Wilson to fly out with the tying runs on base as No. 6 North Carolina held off No. 11 Stetson 7-5 Saturday afternoon to send the Tar Heels to the College World Series for the 11th time in program history and the seventh under head coach Mike Fox. Ashton McGee and Cody Roberts knocked in two runs apiece for UNC, which jumped on Stetson starter Jack Perkins for four runs in the top of the first and held off a late rally for the second day in a row.
Carolina’s well-balanced offense set the pace for the Heels as five players had multi-hit games, all seven runs were scored by different players, five Tar Heels added a RBI and every player in the field recorded at least one base hit.
The Tar Heels wasted no time getting on the board in Saturday’s matchup against the Stetson Hatters as they scored four runs on six hits in the top of the first for the 4-0 lead. Kyle Datres singled on the first pitch of the game to get things going before Roberts doubled to left field to bring him home.
Brandon Riley followed suit with a double of his own to score Roberts before Ike Freeman singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Zack Gahagan’s single to left field and Ashton McGee’s double to the gap in left-center propelled the Heels to a very quick 4-0 lead.
Stetson responded in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run before both sides traded a pair of runs in the third to make it 6-3 after three full innings.
After two scoreless innings for both sides, Carolina plated another run in the sixth for the 7-3 lead. Brandon Martorano doubled to lead off the inning and was pushed to third base courtesy of a Datres single. Two batters later with runners on second and third, Roberts perfectly executed a squeeze play to bring home Martorano.
Stetson once again wouldn’t go without a fight as they chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the seventh with another solo home run to make it 7-4.
In the ninth with Brett Daniels on the hill, Stetson doubled to lead off the frame before a two-out, RBI single from Mike Spooner cut the Tar Heel lead to 7-5. With a runner on first, Josh Hiatt came on in relief for Daniels and gave up a single to put runners on first and second. With the go-ahead run at the plate, Brooks Wilson hit a towering shot to centerfield that was caught at the warning track by Brandon Riley as the Heels clinched their ticket to Omaha.
O’Brien picked up the win on the mound as Hiatt picked up his sixth save of the year. Carolina has now won its last seven super regional appearances, six of those coming at home, as this is the fifth time the Tar Heels have run through the regional and super regional round without a loss.