Heels Crush Aggies in Houston
HOUSTON –– Mike Fox will tell you that often, a walk is as good as a hit, or better, if the bases are empty. Pitchers know that sometimes a good hitter will get a pitch to hit. If he throws four balls, however, he starts to question his command.
Sunday, Carolina polished off a 3-0 weekend in Houston with a 14-2 win over Texas A&M. The game was called after 6 1/2 innings due to the ten-run rule agreed upon before the first pitch. The Tar Heels drew 11 walks from Aggie pitchers, including four straight from starter Rafael Pineda to the first four Carolina hitters.
“It was a little bit of an ugly game from both sides,” Fox said afterward. “Just walks. We took advantage of their wildness a little bit and got some big hits”
Pineda, who had averaged better than six innings through his first two starts of 2013, was pulled after throwing just 17 pitches, 16 of them balls. He finished with three earned runs without recording an out.
The Tar Heels scored 12 runs in the first three innings to put the Aggies away. Carolina’s Hobbs Johnson, getting his first start in two weeks, struggled with his command and went just 2 1/3 innings with five walks and a strikeout. “He had good stuff, he just couldn’t throw the ball over the plate,” Fox said of Johnson. “He sort of lives on those three-ball counts and has a lot of 3-1,3-2 counts. He did a lot last year and was able to make those pitches, but today he didn’t look sharp.”
Tar Heel senior Chris Munnelly gave the team 2 2/3 innings of relief. He too struggled with his command at times, but used his curveball to get several big strikeouts with the Aggies threatening. “He’s a senior. There’s no excuse for some of his walks, but you’ve got to give him credit. He got a couple of big strikeouts.”
Despite the walks issued, Carolina held the Aggies to just three hits on the day. Texas A&M scored a run each in the first two innings, but could not reach home despite loading the bases on several occasions.
Carolina’s hitters were patient at the plate. In addition to the 11 walks drawn, they put 13 hits together across 6 innings, waiting on A&M pitchers in difficult counts to deliver hittable pitches. “I tried to work into hitter’s counts, kind of get a pitch or two that I can hit,” said Colin Moran, who was 1-3 with two walks and three runs scored. “If not, just take them and get on base.”
“We pride ourselves on walking, and the last two days, we didn’t strike out a whole lot, and that was good. We hit a lot of balls hard, and found good holes today, and that was good,” Fox said.