#8 North Carolina Baseball 2019 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
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North Carolina ended their little College World Series drought last season. After dominating the ACC for the better part of a decade, the Tar Heels have been a bit disappointing over the last few years. But that ended in 2018 when North Carolina went 22-8 in ACC play and reached the CWS for the first time since 2013. UNC was eliminated by Oregon State after blowing a big lead late in the game. That is a tough way to finish the year, but Coach Mike Fox has a lot of talent on his roster and this group could get another try in Omaha.
2018: 44-20, 22-8
2018 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Fox
Key Departed Players:
Kyle Datres, .345 BA, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 12 SB
Brandon Riley, .284 BA, 5 HR, 55 RBI
Cody Roberts, .278 BA, 5 HR, 41 RBI
Zack Gahagan, .273 BA, 7 HR, 40 RBI
Cooper Criswell, P, 2.99 ERA, 6-2 W/L, 75.1 IP, 86 SO
Brett Daniels, P, 2.77 ERA, 6-1 W/L, 65.0 IP, 74 SO
Key Returning Players:
Michael Busch, 1B, .317 BA, 13 HR, 63 RBI
Ike Freeman, IF, .305 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI
Ashton McGee, OF/IF, .257 BA, 2 HR, 28 RBI
Brandon Maetorano, C/OF, .246 BA, 9 HR, 36 RBI
Austin Bergner, P, 4.25 ERA, 7-3 W/L, 82.2 IP, 84 SO
Tyler Baum, P, 4.57 ERA, 4-1 W/L, 65.0 IP, 74 SO
Some big bats are gone, but the North Carolina offense should not take too much of a step back this season. First baseman Michael Bush will be the star of the lineup after hitting .317 and leading the team with 13 homeruns and 63 RBIs. Shortstop Ike Freeman is a consistent and clutch hitter. Some younger players, including a few incoming freshmen, will have to step up in order to fill in around Busch and Freeman. Austin Bergner and Tyler Baum will form the heart of the rotation. Bergner went 7-3 last year with a 4.25 ERA, while Baum was 4-1 with a 4.57 ERA. Gianluca Dalatri is also back after making just seven appearances last year due to an injury. As a freshman two years ago, he went 7-3 with a 3.34 ERA. If Dalatri is back to his old form, the Tar Heels have an ace for their staff. And that will go a long way in getting this group back to the CWS.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament