- 2018 Record: 43-18 (22-8 Conference)
- Head Coach: Mike Fox
- Best Batter: Kyle Datres (.344 Batting Average)
- Best Fielder: Michael Busch (489 Putouts)
- Best Pitcher: Cooper Criswell (2.82 ERA)
It seems ironic for the Beavers to start their trip to Omaha against an old rival in the Tar Heels. Any Beaver baseball fan worth their salt will remember the results of the last few times these 2 clubs met (hint: Oregon State got a few rings out of it). But, that’s all in the past. And we’re all curious how this UNC squad matches up this season.
So, let’s get right into it, the Tar Heels are a great baseball team.
A test to see how good an opponent can be is to look at their body of work, and one of the first thing that stands out for UNC is just how difficult of a schedule they had this season. In conference games alone, they played against tough squads including Louisville, Duke, and Georgia Tech. Outside of their conference, they had games against several ranked teams including Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, and East Carolina. That is not a fun schedule.
However, it’s worth noting that UNC has struggled heavily against ranked clubs; accruing 9 losses in 14 possible games against ranked squads. Though that won’t make this team any less dangerous, it will be important to note this team’s struggles against ranked teams.
Now, turning our attention to the team itself, North Carolina was a solid offensive team. They came in ranked 4th in the ACC in total batting with a .286 average in addition to 401 RBI’s. A stat that also sticks out is their .394 on-base percentage, meaning that this team could get on base early and often. 3rd baseman Kyle Datres and 1st baseman Micheal Busch led the way for the Tar Heels as each hit over .333 for the team this season. The majority of the other starting lineup batted between .274 and .296. This is a solid hitting squad that has to be respected on almost every batter. There are some weaker batters that can be exploited, but this is still a very strong lineup.
Now, where this Tar Heel lineup made their money on the season is with their pitching. This team comes in 2nd overall in the ACC in total pitching with a 3.60 ERA to go with 219 earned runs allowed. Junior Cooper Criswell and Senior Brett Daniels have been the workhorses for the Tar Heels this season, with each boasting over 60 innings pitched and sub 2.85 ERAs. The team also has a solid stable of relievers, with several bullpen pitchers on this team having sub 3.50 ERAs. UNC has a filthy staff, but it is not a reach to say Oregon State will most likely be the best hitting team they have seen all season. It will be a strength-on-strength battle between the Beavs bats and the Tar Heels pitching.
Finally, UNC came in 5th in the ACC in total fielding. Though they aren’t the most elite defense in Omaha, they will not shoot themselves in the foot. With good pitchers to boot, that makes the Tar Heels defense an effective group. The team ended with a 0.973 fielding percentage to go with a .683 stolen bases allowed percentage. When it comes down to it, the Tar Heels defense does enough to get the job done. This means Oregon State will need to be effective with their hitting to exploit holes in this defense.
To summarize, the Tar Heels are an elite team. There’s a reason they are ranked 5th in the nation on D1baseball.com. This may be the most complete team Oregon State has played all season. Are there places where the Beavs can take advantage of the Tar Heels? Absolutely. Yet, that doesn’t mean it will come easy. Oregon State will need to be on their A-game come Saturday. And knowing Casey, they will be.
Number To Know: 5
Out of 14 regular season matchups versus ranked opponents, UNC came away with only 5 wins. On the season versus ranked opponents, UNC was 5-9.
History Against Oregon State:
In the last two matchups in the College World Series, Oregon State is 4-1 against the Tar Heels.
Game Against OSU
Saturday, June 16th. 12:00 PM PT at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE.