Despite losing the final series of the regular season, the Liberty Flames were able to rebound in a big way last week. Coach Scott Jackson’s baseball team won four straight games to come out of the loser’s bracket in the ASUN Tournament including beating defending champs Stetson in two straight for the title.
The Flames (42-19) were named the No. 3 seed in the Chapel Hill regional this weekend, hosted by the No. 14 overall seed North Carolina Tar Heels (42-17). Joining the Flames and Diamond Heels in Chapel Hill this weekend for the opening round of the NCAA baseball tournament are No. 2 seed Tennessee (38-19) and No. 4 seed UNC-Wilmington (32-29).
Liberty opens double-elimination regional play with Tennessee on Friday at 7 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium. The Tar Heels and Seahawks will open Friday’s schedule at 2 p.m., both games can be seen on ESPN3. The losers will then play in the early game on Saturday and the winners will square off Saturday evening.
The Flames are familiar with both the Tar Heels and Tennessee. Liberty split a pair of games with North Carolina, each winning on their respective home field, and lost to Tennessee in a single game in Knoxville early in the season.
Tennessee is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 under 2nd year head coach Tony Vitello. The Volunteers had a very successful program from 1995-2005, advancing to the College World Series three times during that stretch, but after coach Rod Delmonico retired it’s been a long road back. Vitello came to Tennessee after assistant coaching stops at Arkansas, TCU, and Missouri. Their 38 wins this season is the most since that 2005 season when they advanced to the College World Series. The Volunteers got off to a hot start in non-conference play, racing out to a 15-0 start, which included a 7-1 win over the Flames on February 26th.
The UNC baseball team captured its seventh conference title in program history with a victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game on Sunday. The Tar Heels stumbled into the ACC Championship as a 5-seed after losing two out of three games to NC State to close out the regular season. Carolina utilized two extra inning victories on their way to the Championship. The Tar Heels are led by ACC Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference selection Aaron Sabato. The outfielder led the team with .338 batting average and 56 RBIs while finishing 2nd on the team with 14 home runs. Junior Michael Busch was also named to the ACC’s first-team all-conference with a team-high 15 home runs. Junior righty Tyler Baum paces the pitching staff. He led the team with 81.1 innings pitched while making 14 starts with an ERA of 3.76.
UNC-Wilmington won the CAA’s automatic bid thanks to a 4-1 mark in the league’s conference tournament this past weekend. They defeated Elon, 6-5, in 10 innings on Sunday for the title. Sophomore shortstop Greg Jones was chosen as the 2019 CAA baseball Player of the Year. He ranked third in the league with a .333 batting average and led the conference in runs scored, triples, walks, and on-base percentage. He ranks 9th nationally with 37 stolen bases. Jones was one of three first-team all-CAA honorees as he was joined by junior third baseman Cole Weiss (.310, 3 HR, 43 RBI’s) and junior outfielder Kep Brown (.279, 7 HR, 52 RBI’s).
Below is the full schedule for the Chapel Hill regional including times which are all Eastern:
Friday, May 31
Game 1: (1) North Carolina (38-18) vs. (4) UNCW (32-29), 2 p.m.
Game 2: (4) Liberty (42-19) vs. (2) Tennessee (38-19), 7 p.m.
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 2
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4,1 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 6 p.m.
Monday, June 3
Game 7: If necessary, 4 p.m.
You can find the full bracket here.