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June 5, 2004

Columbia, S.C. –
On the strength of a 2-for-3 day at the plate by designated hitter Matt Ellington and 4.1 innings of scoreless relief by Whitley Benson, the North Carolina baseball team defeated The Citadel by a 6-3 count in an elimination game at the Columbia, S.C. NCAA Regional at Sarge Frye Field on Saturday night. The Tar Heels advance to face South Carolina in the first regional final game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., North Carolina would need to defeat the Gamecocks twice in order to advance to next weekend’s Super Regional.

The Tar Heels (43-20) took a quick 2-0 lead on the Bulldogs (39-28) in the contest during the top of the second inning on the strength of a two-run single by Matt Ellington. Sammy Hewitt singled to center to lead off the frame and was followed by Mike Daniel, who doubled to left, and both scored on the single by Ellington.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning, when Jon Aughey reached on an infield single and Mark Egleton doubled to center field to score Aughey and make the score 2-1 in favor of North Carolina.

In the top of the third inning, the Heels added to their advantage again, as Hewitt singled to right center to score Chase Younts, who led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a Marshall Hubbard groundout.

The Citadel loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning to chase North Carolina starter Andrew Miller, who allowed three runs in just 2.1 innings of work, giving up three hits and three walks, while striking out one. Aughey singled through the left side to plate Matt Covington, who led off with a walk, and Egleton recorded a sacrifice fly to left that scored Chris Ard, who was hit by a pitch, tying the game at 3-3.

Benson came in to relieve Miller and allowed just two hits in 4.1 innings, while striking out three and walking just one. Michael Gross picked up his eighth save of the year for the Tar Heels, as he pitched 2.1 innings and struck out three, while walking one.

The Tar Heels immediately pulled back in front in the top of the fourth inning with a pair of runs to chase Bulldog starter Chip Cannon (5-4). After Ellington singled through the right side to start the frame, Younts registered a two-out single, also through the right side to break the tie. Catcher Chris Iannetta then drew a walk and Younts scored on a double by Marshall Hubbard to right, making the score 5-3.

Ellington drove in his third run of the night to give North Carolina the final 6-3 advantage. After Daniel doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Webb, Ellington’s flyout allowed Daniel to score.