UNC 8, LSU 4

OK, I've had a night of sleep to digest that game.  Let's go over why they won.

1.  Alex White was great.  When Hollander got a homer to lead off the game, I thought we were in great shape.  When Clark homered to lead off the 2nd, I thought the flood gates would open.  We didn't get another runner on base until the 6th inning.  Then we gave him a free inning in the 7th, letting him out of it after throwing only 6 pitches.  By the time we finally got to him in the 8th, it was almost too late.  In particular, Jared Mitchell just couldn't hit him.  Until he started losing his stuff in the 6th inning, Mitchell was a sinkhole at the top of the lineup.  He struck out twice, and it was obvious to me he would have struck out ten times if we'd been batting him 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.  

2.  They dinked and dunked us to death.  Totally Spoil said it in a comment to a lower post, and I was thinking it as the game was going on.  They got 8 runs on 17 hits.  I think they only had 3 extra base hits (and one of those was simply misplayed by Mitchell), and I'm willing to bet at least half-a-dozen of those hits never made it out of the infield.  I swear through the first two innings, we had four contacts on the ball that were harder than any hit UNC had (almost through the whole game), and they were winning 3-2.

3.  Some breaks went their way.  Ryan Verdugo earned two outs early in the bottom of the first.  He got their leadoff man to hit a lazy grounder to the first base side that just happened to be placed in a tough spot for anyone to field quickly, and he was fast enough to leg it out.  Then he got the 3rd batter to pop up a bunt that Clark couldn't quite get to in time.  If either of those had been hit a little more solid, we get two outs.  Instead, we had no outs and bases loaded.  We might have gotten out of that inning unhurt and leading.  It could have been a very different game then.

4.  In the 6th inning, when we were finally doing something, Dean and Clark did nothing.  The UNC pitcher was tiring, losing his stuff and his control.  He walked Mitchell and Blake Dean came up with an opportunity to keep it going, but he ended up swinging at Ball 4, giving them a free out against our best hitter.  Gibbs got on, and then Clark got out.  With the pitcher's control weakening, we were unable to take advantage.  Timely hits (or walks) by Dean and Clark would have not only scored a run or two when the game was still well within reach, it probably would have chased White out of the game, and gotten us into their bullpen.  It would have been anyone's game at that point.

5.  That bad call at first base.  We all know the one I'm talking about.  With the bases loaded in the 8th and Leon Landry up as the tying run, he hit a lazy chopper towards 2nd base that the shortstop grabbed.  He touched second and threw to first.  Even at full speed, Landry clearly beat the throw by about a half-step, but was called out.  Replays confirmed that the umpire just missed the call.  I'm not usually one to complain about a bad call, but (a) this call was absolutely atrocious, and (b) it effectively ended the game.  It completely deflated a pretty good rally.  If the call is made right, we get another run in and an opportunity to keep hitting with runners on base.  If that call is made right, Helenihi comes up needing a base hit to cut the lead to 2.  Instead, we lost a run and an out on one bad call, and we never got the tying run up to bat again.

6.  The umpire's strike zone didn't help Verdugo.  Verdugo really didn't pitch poorly.  He was victimized by a strike zone that didn't give him the calls on low pitches.  It was consistent for both sides, so I can't complain about it, but I think a different home plate umpire may have given him those low strikes.  Switch up the home plate umpire and the first base umpire and maybe we win that game.  Who knows?

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