Benji Johnson tied a school record with two triples against Virginia Tech Sunday.
April 17, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Winners of five straight and eight of its last nine, North Carolina plays its second straight midweek road game against an in-state opponent Tuesday at UNC Greensboro. The Tar Heels (31-7) and Spartans (16-22) will square off at 6 p.m. at UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Redshirt freshman Luke Putkonen (4-0) will make his ninth start of the season against UNCG. He owns a 4.14 ERA and has struck out 21 batters over 37 innings. Putkonen is limiting opponents to a .237 average.
The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Spartans, 9-3, and won both meetings in 2004. UNCG is coming off a series win over Davidson, while the Tar Heels swept Virginia Tech over the weekend. The Tar Heels are Spartans will also meet in Chapel Hill May 16.
Following Tuesday's game in Greensboro, Carolina is back in action at home this weekend against NC State at Boshamer Stadium. Game times are 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. An audio broadcast of all four games this week will be available at TarHeelBlue.com and AM-1360 WCHL.
NOTING THE WEEK OF APRIL 10-16:
The Tar Heels' 31-7 mark after 38 games is their best since the 1990 team opened with the same record en route to a school-record 51 wins and the program's last ACC title. At 12-6 in league play, Carolina has a one-game lead over Virginia and Miami in the Coastal Division standings.
The Tar Heels were outstanding on the mound last week, posting a 1.50 staff ERA. Carolina allowed just one earned run in the Virginia Tech series to lower its season ERA to 3.52. Weekend starters Andrew Miller, Robert Woodard and Daniel Bard each won for the first time since the season-opening Seton Hall series. The trio combined to allow just one earned run on 19 hits in 22 innings.
Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Benji Johnson led the Tar Heels to an unbeaten week, including an Atlantic Coast Conference sweep of Virginia Tech over the weekend. He hit .500 (7-14) and led the team with seven runs scored and drove in another six runs. Johnson tied a school record set by John Burgwyn March 28, 1958 against Virginia Tech with two triples in Sunday's win over the Hokies to push his slugging percentage to .786 on the week. Johnson also led the Tar Heels with four walks and a .632 on-base percentage.
Wednesday, Johnson was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI in the 14-6 win over Charlotte. He matched a career-high with three hits Friday against Virginia Tech and scored another two runs. On Sunday, Johnson scored a career-best three runs and tied a career high with three RBI - all on his second triple of the game in the seventh inning.
On the season Johnson is batting .299 with career bests of six home runs and 21 RBI. He has hit safely in nine of the last 11 games and owns a .341 average over this stretch. Johnson has also been outstanding behind the plate, throwing out 12 of 21 base runners this year.
Junior right-hander Robert Woodard pitched the Tar Heels to a 3-1 win over Virginia Tech Saturday, allowing just one run over seven innings. He matched a career-high with seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter. With the win, Woodard improved to 4-1 this season, 20-3 in his career and 13-0 at Boshamer Stadium. His career winning percentage of .870 is second all-time at Carolina. Also a winner of 15 of his last 16 decisions, Woodard lowered his ERA to 3.57 and now has 31 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 58 innings.
Sophomore closer Andrew Carignan picked up his ninth save of the season Saturday to move into a tie for seventh place on the Tar Heels' single-season list. Carignan can become just the fifth reliever in program history to record 10 saves in a single season with just one more.
Junior lefty Andrew Miller struck out two batters Friday to move into sixth place on the Tar Heels' career list. He now has 258 over the last three seasons and can crack the top five with just 12 more strikeouts.
Junior right-hander Daniel Bard picked up his first win since March 11 against Virginia Tech Sunday. He allowed no earned runs, just five hits and struck out five batters. He walked five but did not allow base hit over his final three innings of work. Sunday's win marked the first time Bard went at least six innings since a March 4 complete game victory over Purdue.
Carolina continued its offensive balance as three Tar Heels hit .500 or better on the week - Mike Cavasinni at .556 and Chad Flack and Benji Johnson at an even .500. Additionally, four players drove in six runs or more - Flack and Jay Cox with seven RBI each and Johnson and Tim Federowicz with six apiece.
Freshman Mike Cavasinni has come on strong over the last two weeks and is batting .615 (8-13) over the last six games. He had his first career three-hit game at Charlotte Wednesday.
Junior Jay Cox hit .429 last week and leads the Tar Heels with a .414 average on the season. He had three hits Saturday for his 19th career multi-hit game of the season and the 50th of his career.