A capsulized look at Game 10 of the College World Series, set for a 7 p.m. start on Thursday.
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North Carolina (58-11)
Pitcher: LH Hobbs Johnson (4-1, 2.62 ERA, 91 strikeouts)
Top hitters: 1B Cody Stubbs (.363, 26 2Bs, 8 HRs, 76 RBIs, .578 slugging percentage); DH Landon Lassister (.360, 14 2Bs, 28 RBIs, .497 on-base percentage); 3B Colin Moran (.344, 13 HRs, 89 RBIs, .549 slugging percentage, 62 BBs, .471 on-base percentage)
How they got here: The Tar Heels bounced back from an 8-1 drubbing against North Carolina State by eliminating No. 4 national seed Louisiana State 4-2 Tuesday.
Trends: Trent Thornton rightfully has received plenty of attention for his banner freshman season but high school buddy Chris McCue deserves some praise, too. The sophomore right-hander has appeared in seven of North Carolina’s nine tournament games, allowing just three earned runs in 15 2⁄3 innings. He’s collected one win and saved Thornton’s victory over LSU with two innings of one-hit relief. Thornton and McCue attended Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, N.C., prompting Mike Fox to give a shout out to their former coach, Hal Bagwell, after the LSU win. Said Fox: “He coached them good.”
North Carolina will win if: Moran can build on his three-hit game against LSU. The Tar Heels’ top run producer had been scuffling in the tournament but recorded his first three-hit game since May 17 against Virginia.
North Carolina State (50-15)
Pitcher: LH Brad Stone (3-2, 5.28 ERA)
Top hitters: SS Trea Turner (.373, 13 2Bs, 7 HRs, 42 RBIs, .560 slugging percentage, .458 on-base percentage); RF Jake Fincher (.317, 0 HRs, 29 RBIs); 1B Tarran Senay (.289, 16 2Bs, 8 HRs, 59 RBIs, .452 slugging percentage)
How they got here: The Wolfpack went from scoring eight runs in an opening-round win over North Carolina to getting just one, on five hits, in second-round loss to UCLA.
Trends: UCLA’s pitching has been dominant in the NCAA tournament but the Wolfpack’s isn’t far behind. North Carolina State pitchers have compiled a 1.52 ERA in seven tournament games, while the Bruins’ staff has a 1.42 ERA in its seven games. The Wolfpack have allowed just three runs in Omaha and limited opponents to a .161 batting average. The pitchers have been backed by near errorless play as the only three errors the Wolfpack have made came in one inning against William & Mary in the regional.
North Carolina State will win if: Stone can channel his inner Carlos Rodon. OK, it’s probably asking a little much for the freshman to match what Rodon, who’s already being projected as the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, did against the Tar Heels this year. But if the Wolfpack can get a solid start out of Stone, it will enhance its chances of sticking around Omaha.