Tar Heels win wild one, face Gamecocks for trip to Omaha

North Carolina needed a super effort to reach the NCAA Super Regionals, and the Tar Heels were up to the task.

Cody Stubbs singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning to help No. 1 overall seed North Carolina avoid a huge upset by edging Florida Atlantic 12-11 on Monday night in a wild regional championship game.

Stubbs’ hit down the left-field line scored Landon Lassiter from third base to cap a game filled with momentum swings, sending the Tar Heels (55-9) spilling onto the field in a mad dash to celebrate.

The outcome was of particular interest to South Carolina, which eliminated Liberty earlier in the day to advance. The Gamecocks will play the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in the Super Regional rather than hosting Florida Atlantic.

UNC took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning, but gave up six runs — including a grand slam by Tyler Rocklein — to trail 8-6. But the Tar Heels tied it to send it to extras, only to fall behind again in the 12th after the second-seeded Owls (42-22) got a three-run homer by Levi Meyer in the top of the inning.

The Tar Heels came back yet again, and then won it to advance to the best-of-three super regionals against South Carolina, starting Friday at Chapel Hill.

North Carolina narrowly avoided joining Oregon — No. 8 overall — as national seeds to fail to get out of the regional round.

The win came barely a week after North Carolina needed 18 innings to beat rival North Carolina State in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. On this night, the Tar Heels used six pitchers — including regional-game starters Kent Emanuel, Benton Moss and Hobbs Johnson — before reliever Reilly Hovis (4-0) earned the win by striking out Rocklein to end the top of the 13th.

The Tar Heels started the year 39-2 and won the ACC tournament title, but barely avoided suffering consecutive losses for the first time all season. Florida Atlantic edged North Carolina 3-2 on Sunday to force Monday night’s decisive game.

Reliever Michael Sylvestri (4-3) took the loss after allowing three hits and the winning run in 1 1/3 innings.

The game was delayed for two hours due to heavy rain and didn’t wrap up until after 1 a.m. Tuesday.

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