The North Carolina Tar Heels (49-14) defeated the Stanford Cardinals (35-21) 5-2 Friday afternoon in Chapel Hill in the first game of this super regional. Patrick Johnson led the Tar Heels on the mound as he threw 7.2 innings giving up just one run on five hits while striking out seven. Johnson improves to 13-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.28 for the season.
North Carolina spent most of the game protecting a one-run lead as they got the early score in the 2nd inning off of Stanford starter, Mark Appel. With two outs and a runner on third base, Tar Heel centerfielder Ben Bunting hit a RBI-single to shallow right field to give North Carolina the 1-0 lead.
Johnson protected that 1-0 lead until North Carolina's offense gave him a couple of more insurance runs in the 7th inning. Brian Holberton led off the 7th inning with a walk to bring Seth Baldwin to the plate. It would be the last batter that Appel would face on the day as Baldwin blasted a two-run home run to left field and give the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead.
Stanford answered with a couple of runs in the top of the 8th inning but North Carolina responded with two more runs of their own in the bottom of the 8th to seal the 5-2 victory, and put the Tar Heels one victory away from a trip to Omaha for the College World Series.
Seth Baldwin and Ben Bunting combined to go 5-7 with four RBI's with two runs scored from the seven and nine spots in the batting order for North Carolina.
The projected starters for Saturday are Kent Emanuel (7-1, 2.62 ERA) for North Carolina and Jordan Pries (6-5, 3.24 ERA) from Stanford. They play Saturday at 3pm ET in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have the opportunity to punch their ticket at an opportunity at a National Championship with a victory.