North Carolina can't afford another letdown performance on Thursday night when it faces NC State for the right to move on to the 2013 College World Series semifinals.
The No. 1-ranked team in the nation at the end of the regular season, North Carolina has already lost one game in the Series and will be eliminated if it loses its next contest.
Which team will move on to the semifinals?
Interestingly enough, the team that beat the Tar Heels is their next opponent.
Wolfpack ace Carlos Rodon mowed down the vaunted Tar Heels' lineup in their first contest, an 8-1 win for NC State on Sunday in the Series opener. It was a magnificent performance by the impressive sophomore, who only allowed one run on five hits and two walks while striking out eight.
NC State, on the other hand, scored its eight runs on 11 hits and five walks. The Wolfpack's Kent Emanuel, who has only lost three games all year, was pummeled early and didn't make it out of the third inning after allowing five runs.
The recipe for winning their rematch will be simple for the Tar Heels: Their bats must come alive.
North Carolina's offense has been largely dormant thus far in this College World Series.
No team in the country could match the Tar Heels' offensive firepower during the regular season as North Carolina's bats produced 529 runs in 67 games—an average of 7.9 runs per contest.
Those are staggering numbers, but in its two World Series games so far, North Carolina has scored only five runs.
While it was encouraging to see the Tar Heels rack up 11 hits in its 4-2 win over LSU in the loser's bracket on Tuesday, the Tar Heels can't afford to leave men on base against NC State like they did against the Tigers.
Colin Moran, Skye Bolt, Brian Holberton, Cody Stubbs and the rest of North Carolina's hitters must start playing like they had all season long.
The Tar Heels have excellent pitching, and if the men at the plate can deliver on Thursday night, then North Carolina will win.
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