UNC Crowned Chapel Hill Regional Champions

(Photo: Jim Hawkins / Inside Carolina)

CHAPEL HILL, NC – No. 10 overall seed North Carolina is heading to a super regional. The Tar Heels defeated No. 3 regional seed Virginia Commonwealth, 7-3, on Monday night and maneuvered their way through the Chapel Hill Regional losers’ bracket to win three-straight games and be crowned regional champions.

It is the first time VCU lost back-to-back games since April 24 and 26. UNC ended the Rams’ 17-game winning streak on Sunday and piled on to prevent the Rams from reaching their 2nd-ever super regional.

This is UNC’s 14th NCAA regional championship in program history and its 10th super regional appearance (super regionals started in 1999).

UNC brought the energy as the road team into its own stage for the third time this weekend. Four runs crossed in the first inning approximately 24 hours after seven runs crossed in the first inning.

Brandon Schaeffer earned the start on one full day of rest to set the tone. Gage Gillian, who made his fourth appearance of the weekend, threw an immaculate 4.1 innings allowing zero runs on one hit with four strikeouts. Davis Palermo entered the game in the ninth to finish off the win.

Program History

Entering this regional, UNC had never advanced to a super regional by way of the losers’ bracket. When Forbes was ejected and Tar Heels fans everywhere were angered at the umpiring crew, it seemed unlikely UNC would win three-straight games and be the first Tar Heel team to ever do it.

Alas, following a home run robbery by Vance Honeycutt, 19 runs while facing elimination and a stand-out performance by Schaeffer on one day of rest, the Tar Heels clinched a spot in a super regional. UNC was unsuccessful the last nine tries through the bottom bracket. In try No. 10 the Tar Heels made it out.

Another Hot Start

The Tar Heels put up seven runs in the bottom of the first inning Sunday night to all but seal the victory. In the third game against VCU on Monday, it was a four-run first inning that led the way for UNC.

Alberto Osuna started the scoring with an RBI single, and then Mikey Madej put an emphatic swing on a ball, sending a no-doubter to left field for a three-run shot. The home run gave the senior outfielder eight RBI in the regional.

Schaeffer Powers Through

Going on one full day of rest, the UNC coaching staff opted to start left-hander Brandon Schaeffer. The junior threw 79 pitches against the Rams on Saturday night. He was expected to be available for the regional finale but a starting role was an unexpected development.

Even so, the West Virginia Potomac State College transfer threw 3.2 innings allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five batters and throwing 37 strikes on 58 pitches. He has a 2.81 ERA in his last five starts (32 innings).

Forbes Returns

After being suspended for two games following his ejection from Saturday night’s contest, head coach Scott Forbes returned to the dugout for the Monday night final. The Tar Heels won both elimination games without him on Sunday.

He received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd upon his return.

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UNC is going to host a super regional. Arkansas closed out Oklahoma State on Monday night, meaning the Razorbacks are coming to Chapel Hill next weekend.

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