Arkansas will face one of college baseball’s hottest teams when it travels to North Carolina for the Chapel Hill Super Regional that begins Saturday at 10 am Central.
The Tar Heels (42-20) have won 19 of 22 games, including 9 of 10 since the end of the regular season.
They played their way into a national seed, No. 10, with seven consecutive victories entering the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina swept Florida State to end the season and won the ACC Tournament the following week.
They advanced to the super regional with hard-fought home regional against Virginia Commonwealth and Georgia.
Here are five things to know about the Tar Heels:
Of North Carolina’s 62 games this season, 37 have been against teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels are 21-16 in games against postseason teams, including 6-5 against teams that are in the super regionals. North Carolina won an early-season nonconference series against East Carolina, lost a pair of ACC series to Virginia Tech and Louisville, and defeated Virginia Tech and Notre Dame during its 4-0 run at the ACC Tournament.
Only Tennessee (25) has more Quadrant 1 wins than the North Carolina’s 21. Quadrant 1 games are home games vs. top 30 RPI teams, away games against top 75 RPI teams and neutral-site games against top 50 RPI teams.
The Tar Heels showed their resolve during their home regional when they battled back from the loser’s bracket. Following a 4-3 loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday, North Carolina won 6-5 over Georgia and 19-8 over VCU on Sunday to force a winner-take-all regional championship game.
The Tar Heels defeated VCU 7-3 on Monday.
Prior to Sunday’s loss, VCU had won 17 consecutive games.
North Carolina won both of its games Sunday without its head coach, Scott Forbes, who was suspended two games by the NCAA for excessive arguing after he was ejected from Saturday’s game. Forbes returned to coach the final game of the regional.
The Tar Heels have some of the nation’s top hitters.
Junior outfielder Angel Zarate is tied for third nationally with 99 hits, and junior shortstop Danny Serretti is tied for 11th with 93.
Zarate, the leadoff hitter, has 29 multi-hit games for the Tar Heels this season and had an on-base streak of 50 games end during an April 3 contest against Virginia Tech. He has hit four leadoff home runs.
Serretti, who has started 185 consecutive games, had a 26-game hit streak snapped during the final game of the regular season against Florida State. He batted .369 during ACC play and finished the second half of the season with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1,122.
Vance Honeycutt (24) and Alberto Osuna (20) lead the Tar Heels in home runs with total that, respectively, rank 10th and 29th nationally. North Carolina became the 18th team this season to hit 100 home runs Monday when Mike Madej and Serretti homered during the regional-clinching victory over VCU.
Honeycutt, a freshman, also has 29 stolen bases in 34 attempts. He is one of two college baseball players this year — Maryland’s Chris Alleyne is the other — with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, and is the first Tar Heel to accomplish that feat.
Honeycutt and Mac Horvath each homered in four consecutive games this season for North Carolina. Eleven of Honeycutt’s home runs were hit during the month of May.
Two North Carolina pitchers have been in the team’s weekend rotation all season.
If the Tar Heels keep the same rotation as the regional, sophomore right hander Max Carlson is the likely starter for Game 1 of the super regional and junior left hander Brandon Schaeffer is likely to start Game 2. Both have started 17 games.
Carlson is 4-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 72 1/3 innings and Schaeffer is 7-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 91 2/3 innings, which include 3 appearances in relief. Carlson has a WHIP of 1.38 and Schaeffer has a WHIP of 1.39.
Schaeffer had argued North Carolina’s best pitching performance this season with a shutout of Virginia Tech on May 27 at the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, NC He allowed six hits and had six strikeouts.
Schaeffer nine innings over two appearances during the Tar Heels’ regional against VCU. Following a 5 1/3-inning loss to the Rams on Saturday, Schaeffer returned to throw 3 2/3 innings in relief during Monday’s regional championship victory.
Sophomore left hander Will Sandy is a potential starter for an if-necessary Game 3 of the super regional. He started the third game of the regional against Georgia, but was lifted after 1 2/3 innings that included three walks. Sandy has started six games this season.
Right hander Davis Palermo is North Carolina’s top arm out of the bullpen. Palermo has a 2.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and .180 batting average against. He has 71 strikeouts in 55 innings and is tied for the team lead with 5 saves.
The Tar Heels are one of the nation’s best teams at home this season with a 33-7 record at Boshamer Stadium.
North Carolina’s notable series victories at home include over East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Wake Forest and Florida State. Two visiting teams, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, won twice in Chapel Hill this season.
The Tar Heels’ 4,100-seat ballpark opened in 1972, but was torn down and rebuilt as part of a $26 million renovation before the 2009 season.
Capacity at the stadium can be expanded to more than 5,000 with overflow seating. North Carolina’s announced average attendance of 2,138 this season ranked 31st nationally.
The Tar Heels will host their sixth super regional since the rebuild, and third in four seasons. The Tar Heels won a home super regional against Stetson in 2018 and lost a super regional to Auburn in 2019.
Boshamer Stadium has similar dimensions to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, home of the SEC Tournament, including 335 feet to left field, 400 feet to center and 340 feet to right.
A 2018 Baseball America article ranked Boshamer Stadium the sixth best in the country at the time.
North Carolina coach Scott Forbes was promoted when long-time coach Mike Fox retired following the cancellation of the 2020 season.
Forbes has spent the past 21 seasons on staff with the Tar Heels. As North Carolina’s pitching coach, Forbes coached in seven College World Series.
The Tar Heels have played in the NCAA Tournament in both seasons since the transition to Forbes as head coach. His two-year record is 70-47.