#ACCBase Championship: Carey's Homer Lifts Canes Past Tar Heels
May 24, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - Dale Carey looked like an unlikely power source, and that was before he slammed a foul ball off his left foot Thursday afternoon. The Miami outfielder then shrugged off precedent and pain to deliver a tie-breaking and ultimately decisive two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the sixth-seeded Hurricanes defeated the No. 3 Tar Heels on the second day of the ACC Baseball Championship.
The Hurricanes (35-20), less than 24 hours removed from a ninth-inning, 3-2 loss to NC State, remained in title contention - at least pending Thursday's last game - by ending UNC's national-best winning streak at 14 games. They didn't secure the triumph, however, closer A.J. Salcines caught Colin Moran looking with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth.
"What do you want? For me to lie to you?" Miami coach Jim Morris joked. "Of course I was tense."
The Tar Heels (43-14) had their own statistically improbable moment in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Grayson Atwood, a freshman who had only 13 regular-season at-bats, smacked a two-run homer to tie it at 3-3 off coach Mike Fox' bench. Atwood did deliver a walk-off RBI against Coastal Carolina in March, but he hadn't been in a serious pressure situation since April 1.
"My approach was to put a good swing on the first good pitch I saw," Atwood said. Carey, a sophomore, had exactly two long balls in 359 career at-bats as he walked into the box against UNC ace Kent Emanuel, 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA in regular-season play. He didn't feel appreciably better about his chances when the foul ball caught his back foot.
"That was a sharp pain," Carey said. "I went down and stayed down for about a minute. Tried to walk it off. I remember getting back in the box and thinking I just wanted to get a good at-bat."
He achieved that mission with a fly ball over the 365-foot sign in left-center that made it 5-3.
"I felt good," he said, "because I didn't have to run out anything. And it was a relief because it was a big hit."
The Hurricanes nearly suffered a similar defeat to Wednesday's, in which they took a lead into the bottom of the ninth and fell by throwing a bases-loaded walk. Salcines did require 27 pitches, but his offspeed stuff was exceptionally deceptive.
"After that loss, that was about as quiet as I've ever seen our bus," Morris said. "A very emotional loss for them and for me. Today, that emotion swung back the other way."
Fox was ejected for arguing the game-ending call. Under NCAA rules, he will be prohibited from coaching in his team's next game, scheduled for Saturday night against NC State.