We’ve given you every nook and cranny and every nuance of North Carolina’s baseball team possible this week. One thing remains and it’s arguably the most important aspect of any team: starting pitching.

The Heels have a dominant starting staff (as you’d expect with a team that has a sub 3 ERA), so let’s take a loot at North Carolina’s starting pitchers.

Alex White:
6’3 191 sophomore RHP
10-3 2.75 ERA in 88.1 innings pitched

White is the undisputed ace of the Tar Heels’ staff. White leads the team in innings pitched and like most North Carolina hurlers, he is a strikeout pitcher, recording 101 punchouts in his 88 innings. White has a 2.75 ERA, but is not filthy-dominant. He allows just under a hit an inning and walks a batter on average every other inning, so while yes, he is a very, very good pitcher, he is not as good (in my opinion) as UC Irvine ace Scott Gorgen in which the Tigers lost a week ago today. It is unknown whether or not White will start Sunday’s game, but he can also be used out of the pen and has 2 relief appearances this year.

Matt Harvey:
6’4 210 freshman RHP
7-2 2.52 ERA in 60.2 innings pitched

Harvey was a third-round pick in the 2007 MLB draft, but decided to go to the Heels and he has been an instant impact player in his freshman campaign. Harvey allows opponents to hit just .210 against him, but walks are an issue. The freshman right hander allowed 44 walks in 60 innings in the regular season, but he did not allow a single homerun ball the entire season.

Adam Warren:
6’2 206 junior RHP
9-1 4.07 ERA in 77.1 innings pitched

Warren has served as the Tar Heels’ third starter for the better portion of the season and has been a very steady innings eater for North Carolina. Warren is more of a contact pitcher than his counterparts and as a result, he has had problems with long-balls, giving up six on the season and also 77 base hits. But when Warren is on the hill, the Heels are typically giving him solid run support as he has the best W/L record of all the Tar Heels starters with the poorest ERA.

All-in-all, the Heels have a solid starting staff, but I don’t think it is as solid as UC Irvine’s. What makes me confident about LSU’s ability to score some runs is the number of right handed pitchers North Carolina has against LSU’s predominantly left-handed hitting team.

All-in-all, it should be a good ball game.
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But while Tiger fans are sitting on their hands waiting for Sunday’s first pitch, the festivities begin in Omaha today with two first round games.

Bracket One play begins with unseeded Stanford taking on No. 4 seed Florida State at 1 and No. 1 seed Miami takes on No. 8 seed Georgia at 6.

I’ll take the Noles in game one and the Canes in game two, but that Georgia team is more than capable of playing and beating anyone in the country. They have arguably the best hitter in the country in Gordon Beckham and the best closer in Joshua Fields, so if they get out to an early lead, they can advance into the winner’s bracket.

And for the Noles, they will have to overcome first-game demons in their matchup with the Cardinal. The Noles have played beautifully under pressure in this tournament, but have lost their opening game in both the Regional and Super Regional.

More on this tournament, obviously as the week progresses.
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Round 2 of the US Open was a brutal one for golfers early as a dry and long golf course battered and bruised those among the leaders on Thursday.

But in the late afternoon hours, birdies began to pour in and it was an exciting second round of action. Stuart Appeleby leads at -3 following a solid round of 70 and Rocco Mediate, Robert Karl soon and Tiger Woods round out the pack one shot back at -2.

Here is how my chosen ones fare after 2 days.

1. Tiger Woods: -2 (T2)
2. Justin Leonard: +5 (T42)
3. Phil Mickelson: +4 (T36)
4. Sergio Garcia: +4 (T36)
5. Retief Goosen: +3 (T22)

Eight Sleepers:
1. Boo Weekley: +7 (T65)
2. Bubba Watson: MC
3. KJ Choi: MC
4. Miguel Angel Jimenez: -1 (T5)
5. Ian Poulter: MC
6. David Toms: +6 (T49)
7. Rory Sabbatini: +3 (T22)
8. Colin Montgomerie: MC

So far, I got 13 picks. Four are gone and I have four in the Top 22. Not great, but not horrible.

The PGA’s dream pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott was amazing as the trio generated roar after roar on the back nine, generating a Sunday-like atmosphere on a Friday evening.

Tiger’s round began much the same as his first as he looked just a tad rusty as one might imagine with a 2 month layoff, going +2 through three holes. But Woods’ got rolling on his back-9 (the front 9 of the course), and worked his way up to the front of the pack.

If Tiger plays this well the rest of the week and hits as many fairways and hits as many putts the rest of the week as he did today, this thing is over with a capital “o.” Woods showed big-league rust for the first 27 holes he played, but he has seemed to figure it out now and the course appears to be putty in his hands.

What we saw today and yesterday from Woods is why he is not only the best golfer of all-time, but is probably pound-for-pound the most dominant athlete of all-time in any sport.

Woods’ top two challengers, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott had chances to take it to a gimpy Woods on the grandest stage in the sport, but the result? Woods beats them both by six shots. That is just amazing. When LeBron goes 1-1 with Kobe, the two equal one another out. When Peyton Manning squares off with Tom Brady, the two equal one another out. When the best pitcher squares off against the best hitter, it is an even matchup, but when Tiger squares off against the best players in the world, they crumble at his feet.

Phil Mickelson proved today why he will have a whale’s time ever winning this championship. Phil just can not hit enough quality shots in a row to compete in the Open. Sure, he hit tons of beautiful shots, but the majority of them were scrambles to save par. He just can not sustain enough positive momentum needed to make enough birdies and pars to win.

Much more on this tournament tomorrow. It will be a very fun weekend.
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The big news in the MLB today was that baseball has a plan to adopt instant replay, beginning effective August 1, pending meetings between baseball and the World Umpires Association.

According to an Associated Press report, the changes would be used for boundary disputes, including home run and foul balls, but the immediate specifics of the rules have not been finalized.

I, for one, am all in favor of it. Baseball is a game in which the rules are very definitive. Unlike football and basketball where penalties and fouls are subjective and could be interpreted differently by different people, baseball has concrete rules. A foul ball is always a foul ball and a home run is always a home run. So I think baseball has a chance to nail it here and have close to all calls being made correctly and that, in my eyes would put them at the head of the table in terms of integrity in the sporting world.

Major props to Mr. Selig and Co. if they can get this done.
Major disgrace that it took this long, though.

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That’s all for me. Have a blessed weekend.

-Casey

P.S. The world lost a great man and a personal role model to me in Tim Russert. As a journalist-to-be, Russert was someone who did it the “right way.” He will be missed.

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