Hobbs Johnson, North Carolina's normal Sunday starter,
will open Friday's Super Regional festivities on the mound against South
Carolina due to Monday's 13-inning thriller over Florida Atlantic.
UNC head coach Mike Fox announced the
decision during his press conference on Thursday afternoon. Kent
Emanuel, UNC's Friday night ace, will pitch on Saturday and Benton Moss,
the Tar Heels' usual Saturday starter, will throw on Sunday, if needed.
The switch is due to UNC needing all three of its starting pitchers to
throw in the late innings of its 12-11 win over the Owls. While Johnson
and Moss combined to throw 11 pitches to three batters, Emanuel worked
1.2 innings, throwing 51 pitches after throwing 124 in his Saturday
"What we did with Kent is that I had to make the decision for him," UNC
associate head coach/pitching coach Scott Forbes told reporters on
Thursday. "Kent would have pitched yesterday if we had a game. He threw
120 and then threw 50, so four days is what he needs.
"We thought Hobbs didn't throw nearly as many and he's been consistent.
He's come off four days twice this year. They've all been on different
routines and they all felt pretty good today."
Fox and Forbes drew criticism following Monday's game for throwing
Emanuel on short rest, but the junior lefthander said that extra outing
didn't place any extra stress on his arm. He also said the criticism had
been "blown way out of proportion."
"I think it's just a testament to our competitiveness and our work ethic
to be able to know that our bodies can handle that and be able to be
prepared to succeed in situations like that," he said.
Emanuel added that if the decision were up to him, he would be throwing on Friday.
More interesting, however, is UNC's decision to start Johnson over Moss
on Friday. Johnson pitched on Sunday, while Moss started last Friday
Johnson has been on a tear of late, giving up
just six earned runs over his last eight starts. Moss has struggled
recently, allowing 18 earned runs and only reaching the seventh inning
once over his last five starts. The sophomore righty also gave up a
ninth-inning grand slam on Monday.
The Tar Heels have played nine games over the past 15 days, including
three that went 13 innings or longer. While that has taxed UNC's deep
pitching staff, the players are able to rest and recover on their own
"There is a lot of flexibility on our staff," Forbes said. "We take a
lot of pride in that and let every guy kind of come up with their own
program. What we've done with our pitchers this week is we gave them all
Tuesday off with no throwing unless they really wanted to. A couple of
them did. Yesterday, guys who did not get on the mound a ton like
(Reily) Hovis, Mason (McCullough) and (Tate) Parrish threw bullpen. Moss
threw bullpen again to work on his mechanics a little bit."
Fox's initial plans for his pitching rotation ultimately may not matter,
due to Tropical Storm Andrea. The system is expected to dump upwards of
four inches on the Triangle on Friday. If play is postponed until
Saturday, Emanuel would start the first game of the series.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:14:22 GMT
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