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May 23, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - Jacob Stallings' two-run double keyed a four-run North Carolina outburst in the third inning Wednesday night and the second-seeded Tar Heels went on to a 6-0 victory over No. 7 Wake Forest in the ACC Baseball Championship.
UNC (43-12) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 14 games, the Tar Heels' longest run since they opened the 2000 campaign with 21 consecutive triumphs.
The Tar Heels also shut out the Deacons for the third straight meeting in this tournament. They have allowed only eight hits to Wake in a postseason scoreless streak that now stands at 29 innings, and Wednesday's performance included five relievers, only one of whom worked more than one-third of an inning.
"We mix and match and drive you all crazy," North Carolina coach Mike Fox said, "but we don't really care about that."
Stallings, a junior catcher and the son of Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Stallings, smacked a line drive down the left field line to score two and break the game open.
"I was just trying to be a little more aggressive - especially with two outs and runners in scoring position," said Stallings, whose evening also included a block of home plate that squelched Wake's chance to score the game's first run in the third inning.
The Stallings hit helped the Tar Heels capitalize fully on chances facilitated by Wake's defense. The Deacons were not charged with errors on the two plays in question, but they recorded only one out off a pair of grounders that could have gotten them out of the inning with little to no damage. Starting pitcher Tim Cooney's line, which included five earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, was not indicative of his performance in a 117-pitch evening.
"Tim pitched well enough to win," Wake coach Tom Walter said. "There were a couple of plays we didn't make behind him."
Presented with a comfortable lead, Fox went to his bullpen early in order to save Wednesday's starter, Shane Taylor, for possible future work in the tournament. Taylor departed with one out in the fifth inning after allowing no runs and three hits in a performance that echoed his eight-inning one-hitter against Duke on May 13.
Fox said he had hoped to get Taylor through the fifth - a development that would have permitted the starter to get credit for the win - but decided that a total of 86 pitches on the first night of the tournament was sufficient. As a result, the winning pitcher was Tate Parrish, who made only eight regular-season appearances.
R.C. Orlan, the lights-out middle man, struck out six of the 13 Deacons he faced and has now permitted one earned run in his past 10 innings of work. He was the only member of the Heels' conventional bullpen contingent to see action.
Chris O'Brien, who made only 13 regular-season appearances, struck out Conor Keniry with the bases loaded to end it.