Lefty Andrew Miller will start game one for the Tar Heels at Miami Friday.
April 6, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 2 North Carolina (25-6, 7-5 ACC) will face its third straight top-15 opponent this weekend when it travels to No. 14 Miami (23-10, 8-4 ACC) for a three-game series at Mark Light Field beginning Friday. Game times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. The Tar Heels are looking for their second straight series win in Coral Gables after winning two of three in 2004. All three games will be aired live on AM-1360 WCHL in Chapel Hill and at TarHeelBlue.com with Jones Angell and Adam Lucas calling the action. The first two games of the series will be televised by CSS (Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast).
Game Time UNC Starter/UM Starter Fri., 7 p.m. Andrew Miller (6-0, 1.34)/Carlos Gutierrez (7-2, 2.56) Sat., 7 p.m. Robert Woodard (3-1, 3.23)/Manny Miguelez (5-2, 2.37) Sun., 1 p.m. Daniel Bard (3-2, 4.43)/Scott Maine (5-1, 3.89)
All-Time Series Record: Miami leads, 17-10-1
Last Meeting: Miami 7, North Carolina 7, April 17, 2005 in Chapel Hill
Series Streak: The Tar Heels own a slight 5-4-1 advantage in 10 games played since the 2000 season, but Carolina has won two of the last three series.
Fast Fact: UNC handed No. 2-ranked Miami its first series loss of the season in Coral Gables in 2004.
TAR HEELS AT A GLANCE
After 31 games, the Tar Heels sit at 25-6 for the third straight season. The 25 wins are tied for fourth nationally. Carolina looks for a stronger finish this year after closing with a 16-13-1 mark in 2005 and an 18-15 record in 2004.
UNC's No. 2 national ranking in the NCBWA Top 25 matches the highest ranking in program history. The Tar Heels have been rated No. 2 on three different occasions this season.
The Tar Heels are second in the ACC with 36 home runs - 22 more than they have allowed.
Carolina's pitching has allowed three runs or less in nine of the last 12 games with two shutouts over this stretch.
UNC has stolen 52 bases on the season and allowed just 13 steals. Nine more steals and the Tar Heels will match their season total of 2005.
Eight potential starters are batting over .300 for the Tar Heels, including Jay Cox at .444 and Josh Horton at .431. Cox is second in the ACC, while Horton ranks third.
Carolina's starting rotation of Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller and Robert Woodard is 12-3 this season and 57-21 over the last three years.
Thanks in large part to reliable middle reliever Jonathan Hovis and emerging closer Andrew Carignan, Carolina is 19-0 this season when leading after six innings.
Carolina is one of just two ACC teams to rank among the league's top five in batting (third at .333), ERA (fifth at 3.46) and fielding (third at .969).
North Carolina trails its all-time series with Miami, 10-17-1. The Hurricanes won the first two games of last year's series in Chapel Hill, and the teams tied the series finale due to a travel curfew. The Tar Heels have won two of their last three series with the Hurricanes, including the 2004 three-game set at Mark Light Field. Carolina also took two of three in 2002 in Chapel Hill. Head coach Mike Fox is 5-4-1 in 10 games with Miami since 2000.
SCOUTING THE HURRICANES
Miami enters the series having lost three games at home to Clemson last weekend. The Hurricanes did not have any midweek games and have not played since a 14-1 loss to the Tigers April 2. Third baseman Manny Miguelez (.358-2-19) leads the Canes in average with four regulars are batting .340 or better. First baseman Yonder Alonso is Miami's top run producer with five home runs and 42 RBI. The Hurricanes are batting .303 as a team. Righty Carlos Gutierrez (7-2, 2.56), left-hander Manny Miguelez (5-2, 2.37) and right-hander Scott Maine (5-1, 3.89) are expected to start in that order for head coach Jim Morris this weekend. Closer Chris Perez has seven saves and a 1.96 ERA.
NOTING THE CAROLINA STARTERS
FRIDAY: Andrew Miller (Jr., LHP): Since moving into the Friday slot in Carolina's rotation, all Miller has done is shut out a pair of top-five opponents over 14 innings, rack up 22 strikeouts to just two walks and earn ACC Pitcher of the Week honors on back-to-back Mondays. Last time out, he held No. 1 Florida State to just four hits over seven innings and fanned nine after striking out a career-best 13 Georgia Tech batters the week before. Dating to his no-decision against Maryland, Miller owns a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings. He has 10 or more strikeouts in three of his last six starts and has 61 on the season in just 47 innings. Miller has worked at least six innings in six of his seven starts and has gone at least seven in five of his last six starts. On the season, Miller has allowed just seven earned runs and sports a 1.34 ERA. He has not allowed an earned run in five of his seven starts and owns four shutout performances of at least six innings. Miller has given up just two extra-base hits all season and no home runs. Two years ago at Miami, Miller struck out 11 over and allowed just three hits over eight shutout innings. Last season in Chapel Hill, he allowed career highs of eight walks and nine runs in just 2.1 innings and suffered his first loss of the season to the Hurricanes.
SATURDAY: Robert Woodard (Jr., RHP): Woodard picked up his first win since Feb. 24 after tossing his second career complete game in a win over Florida State last week. Over nine innings, he allowed just three runs on seven hits and struck out a season-high five batters. The victory pushed Woodard's career record to an impressive 19-3. On the season, he is 3-1 with a 3.23 ERA and 23 strikeouts over a team-high 47.1 innings. In his career against Miami, Woodard has allowed four runs in 4.1 innings over a pair of relief appearances. Saturday will mark his first career start versus the Canes.
SUNDAY: Daniel Bard (Jr., RHP): Bard hopes to right his ship against Miami after posting a 9.95 ERA over his last three starts and not getting out of the fourth inning in his last two outings. He has given up 15 hits and 14 earned runs over 12.2 innings. On the season, Bard is 3-2 with a 4.43 ERA. He has 48 strikeouts over 40.2 innings against 16 walks for a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Twelve of Bard's 16 walks have come over the last three starts. In his last start at Miami, Bard gave up just one run over eight innings in 2004 but struggled last season, allowing six runs in just 1.2 innings.
OFFENSIVE STANDOUTS VS. MIAMI
Despite Carolina's 0-2-1 series loss to Miami a year ago, sophomores Chad Flack, Benji Johnson and Seth Williams each enjoyed success against the Hurricanes as rookies at Boshamer Stadium. Williams was 4-for-8 with two home runs, a double and three RBI for a whopping 1.375 career slugging percentage against Miami. Flack was 4-for-11 with a home run, a double and six RBI, and Johnson went 2-for-5 with a solo home run.
MILLER EARNS SECOND ACC HONOR
Junior lefty Andrew Miller won his second straight ACC Pitcher of the Week award Monday after back-to-back shutout performances against top-five opponents Georgia Tech and Florida State. Miller is now a four-time conference weekly award winner and has one-fourth of the Tar Heels' 16 all-time ACC Pitcher of the Week awards. Over his last two starts Miller has:
Allowed no runs and just eight hits (only five hits to the outfield)
Struck out 22 batters and walked just two
Tossed 14 scoreless innings
Induced 16 ground outs to just four fly outs
Given up just one extra-base hit (a double to Georgia Tech's Whit Robbins)
BARD, MILLER RETURN TO SCENE OF PAST SUCCESSES
Juniors Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller were just freshmen two years ago, but the tandem was not intimidated by second-ranked Miami and pitched the Tar Heels to a series win over the Hurricanes at Mark Light Field. Bard allowed just one run on eight hits over eight innings to lead Carolina to a 4-1 win in the series opener, and Miller countered with 11 strikeouts over eight scoreless frames in Sunday's 2-0 win in the series clincher.
Bard and Miller at Miami in 2004: S/R Dec. IP H R ER BB K Bard 5/14/04 S W 8.0 8 1 1 2 5 Miller 5/16/04 S W 8.0 3 0 0 3 11 Totals 2-0 16.0 11 1 1 5 16
ARMS SETTLING IN
Since allowing 22 runs and 29 hits over the first two games of the Maryland series, the Tar Heel pitching staff has settled in to allow just 33 earned runs over the last 12 games - good for a 2.80 staff ERA. The staff has fanned 112 batters in 106 innings over this stretch, while walking just 41. Additionally, opponents are batting only .214 against the Tar Heels over this run. If you take out the nine earned runs allowed against Georgia Tech March 25, UNC owns a 2.20 ERA in the last 11 games. On the season, Carolina sports a 3.46 mark, which is fifth in the ACC.
BIG NIGHT AT THE PLATE VS. DAVIDSON
The Tar Heels scored their most runs since a 21-12 win over Princeton in 2003 in Wednesday's 23-7 victory over Davidson. Carolina batted around three different innings and matched a season-high with eight runs scored in the sixth. Fifteen different players hit safely in the game - including four with three hits - and 13 different players drove in runs. Carolina outscored its midweek opponents 32-8 this week.
TOUGH RUN CONTINUES FOR HEELS
Carolina continues a run through some of the top programs in college baseball against No. 14 Miami this weekend. After losing two of three at Georgia Tech March 24-26, Carolina rebounded by taking two of three from Florida State last weekend. Carolina is 5-4 this season against nationally-ranked opponents and looks to improve that mark this weekend in Coral Gables.
FRONK FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
Sophomore third baseman Reid Fronk has been sharp all season, but has really come on over a career-best eight-game hitting streak. He is hitting .387 (12-31) over this run with four doubles, two home runs and six RBI. In the Tar Heels two midweek wins over Elon and Davidson, Fronk went 5-for-9 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. Fronk, who has hit in the leadoff spot in 18 games this season, checks in with a .319 average and a .437 on-base percentage. His five home runs and 24 RBI are already career highs just 31 games into the season. Fronk has also been sparkling defensively with just three errors and a .965 fielding percentage.
JOHNSON ON CAREER-BEST RUN
Sophomore catcher Benji Johnson has always shown flashes of power, but he is starting to put it all together over the last couple of weeks. Johnson has hit safely in his last four games and in nine of the last 11 he has played in. Johnson is batting .375 (12-32) over the last 11 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. He is currently hitting .290 with four homers and 13 RBI on the season.
HORTON HEATS UP
Sophomore shortstop Josh Horton has hit safely in 27 of 30 games he has played in this season and saw his second 12-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday, but came back against Davidson with a 3-for-3 effort. On the season, Horton is batting .431, which is good for third in the ACC, but he has stepped it up to a .510 mark (25-49) over his last 14 games. He is second on the team with 15 multi-hit games and tied for first with nine multi-RBI outings. Horton is also second on the team with 28 RBI and 31 runs scored.
BALANCED ATTACK FOR CAROLINA
With eight potential starters batting .300 or better, Carolina has produced throughout its lineup this season to the tune of a .333 team average, which ranks third in the ACC. Jay Cox (.444) and Josh Horton (.431) are hitting well above .400 and rank among the top hitters in the ACC. Another five regulars are hitting above .319. The Tar Heels also have: Five players with 28 or more runs scored
Five players with at least eight doubles and nine with five or more doubles
Five players with at least 24 RBI
Four players with at least five home runs
COX HUNTING HITS
Junior outfielder Jay Cox leads the Tar Heels and sits No. 2 in the ACC with a career-best .444 batting average through 31 games. He has a team-best 17 multi-hit games on the season and can reach 50 multi-hit games for his career with just two more. After going hitless in back-to-back games for the first time all season, Cox has bounced back to post a .583 average (7-12) over the last five games. Cox, who ranks among the ACC's top 10 in six categories, has already hit a career-best eight home runs and leads the Tar Heels with 30 RBI, 32 runs, a .741 slugging percentage and .534 on-base percentage. He leads all current Tar Heels with 160 career hits and 88 career RBI.
CARIGNAN CLOSING STRONG
Sophomore Andrew Carignan has emerged as a force in the Tar Heel bullpen with six saves and 17 strikeouts in just 14 innings. Over his last nine appearances, the Norwich, Conn., native has allowed just three hits and no runs over 12.1 innings. Carignan also has five saves over this stretch. He sports a 0.00 ERA, having allowed just one unearned run on the season.
HOVIS ANCHORS HEELS' PEN
With 17 appearances through 31 games, senior closer Jonathan Hovis has been a savior in the bullpen, as Carolina's relievers have struggled at times this season. He is 5-2 with two saves and has allowed just four runs on 19 hits in 29.1 innings of work. He owns a career-low 1.23 ERA. Hovis has picked up a win in three of his last seven appearances and has allowed just one run and owns 10 strikeouts over his last nine innings pitch. He earned his last win against Charlotte March 28 with four shutout innings. Hovis is now 15-7 in his career with seven saves.
ROOKIES COMING ON
Carolina's rookie class played a large part in its midweek success Tuesday and Wednesday with a combined eight RBI over the two games. Infielder Garrett Gore led the way with three RBI, while outfielder Mike Cavasinni chipped in with two. Catcher/DH Tim Federowicz, outfielder Matt McNichol and catcher Mike McKee also drove in a run each on their first career base hits.
CAROLINA'S CATCHING SUCCESS
The Tar Heels' catching tandem of Tim Federowicz and Benji Johnson has been simply outstanding defensively this season. Opponents have stolen only 13 bases in 31 games and have attempted to steal only 23 times. Federowicz has thrown out 50 percent (5-10) of base runners, while Johnson has gunned down 38.5 percent (5-13). The duo has also committed just three errors in 311 chances on the season.
ALL-AMERICAS LIVE UP TO BILLING
Junior starters Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller and Robert Woodard are living up to their preseason hype in the early stages of 2006. The trio of preseason All-Americas is a combined 12-3 with a 2.93 earned run average and has struck out a combined 132 batters in 135 innings, while walking just 38. The trio enter this weekend's series with 57 of the Tar Heels' 109 wins over the last three seasons.
PUTKONEN PICKING IT UP
Redshirt freshman right-hander Luke Putkonen is back at full strength in 2006 after sitting out last season following Tommy John surgery and he continues to improve as the Tar Heels' primary weekday starter. He is 4-0 on the year with a 3.82 ERA. He has struck out 19 batters and walked 13 in 33 innings. Putkonen allowed just one hit over five innings against Elon Tuesday.
TAR HEELS MATCH HIGHEST RANKING IN PROGRAM HISTORY
Rated No. 2 in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division I Poll, Carolina has matched the highest national ranking in program history. The Tar Heels were also ranked second in the NCBWA Poll March 20 and Feb. 17 of this season and in the March 20 USA Today Coaches Poll. The Tar Heels were also No. 2 for two weeks of the 2000 season. The 2000 edition of the Tar Heels, which opened the season 21-0, was ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll March 6-13, 2000. Carolina was also ranked No. 3 by Baseball America March 20, matching the highest-ever ranking in the publication's top 25. The Tar Heels also ranked third by the Durham-based publication Feb. 17 of this season and March 13, 2000.
CAREER STRIKEOUT WATCH
With 61 strikeouts over his first seven starts of the season, junior lefty Andrew Miller has 253 for his career. With just 36 more strikeouts this season, Miller can tie Michael Hoog's school record of 289 set between 1987-90. Mike Bynum, a 1999 first-round draft choice, owns the mark for strikeouts in a three-year career with 276 from 1997-99. Miller can move into sixth place on the Tar Heels all-time list with five strikeouts Friday.
WOODARD'S A WINNER
After an 8-0 season in 2005, junior righty Robert Woodard had a 13-game winning streak snapped by a tough-luck loss at Georgia Tech March 26. The Charlotte native had not dropped a decision since a May 11, 2004, start against South Carolina at Knights Castle in Ft. Mill, S.C. Woodard rebounded with a complete game victory over No. 1 Florida State April 1 to move his career record to 19-3, good for a .863 winning percentage, which is third in program history behind Scott Bankhead and Chris Elmore. Woodard is also a perfect 12-0 at Boshamer Stadium over the last three seasons.