Dustin Ackley became the 15th player in College World Series history to record five hits in a game, leading a CWS record-tying 23-hit attack by North Carolina in the Tar Heels’ 11-4 victory over Southern Miss Tuesday afternoon. UNC improved to 48-17 with the win, while the Eagles ended their campaign with a 40-26 mark. It was the fourth time that a team recorded 23 hits in a CWS game, joining Arizona State in 1984 and ’88, and Southern California in 1998.
The Tar Heels seized control of this one early, scoring runs in each of the first four innings to advance to Thursday night’s game against the loser of the Texas-Arizona State game that will be played Tuesday evening. Ackley had an RBI single in the first inning and a run-scoring double in the second to give early support for UNC starter Adam Warren. After Seth Baldwin had an RBI single and Ben Bunting delivered a two-run single, Ackley came through with his third run-scoring hit in as many innings, pushing North Carolina’s lead to 6-0.
The Heels added to its lead in the top of the fourth on a two-run single by Ryan Graepel. Southern Miss broke through in its half of the fourth as B.A. Vollmuth made Warren pay for issuing walks to Corey Stevens and Michael Ewing by blasting a three-run homer to left, making it 8-3.
It stayed that way until the top of the seventh, when Kyle Seager had an RBI single and Mark Fleury hit a sacrifice fly to make it 10-3. In the bottom of the eighth, Joey Archer doubled and later scored on an error to make it 10-4, but North Carolina got the run right back in the ninth on Seager’s solo home run.
Graepel had four hits and drove in two runs for UNC, while Bunting was 3-5 with three runs scored and two more driven in, and Seager was 2-4 with two RBI. Fleury, Garrett Gore and Mike Cavasinni each contributed two hits to help support Warren, who lasted six innings, and allowed just three hits and struck out six. Colin Bates, Patrick Johnson and Nate Striz relieved to finish the Heels’ five-hitter.
The game marked the end of the coaching career of Southern Miss’ Corky Palmer, who guided the Eagles to their first-ever College World Series appearance after earlier announcing that he would retire at the end of the 2009 season. He finished with 960 collegiate victories, including 458 in his 12 years at Southern Miss.