When the bus took a wrong turn on the way to the stadium, William and Mary Head Coach Frank Leoni knew it could be a good day.
“I was telling the guys before the game that some of my best games have come when we’ve shown up late to the park,” Leoni said. “After the game (Derrick) Osteen said, ‘I know, I know, some of your best games have come when you’ve shown up late. I told them though that it’s not showing up late, it’s having a good team. And this is a good team.”
The Tribe (6-4) proved how good they are Tuesday versus no. 11 North Carolina, defeating the Tar Heels 3-0 in Chapel Hill.
Sophomore starter Cole Shain threw five scoreless innings to get the win, striking out a career-high five batters while allowing only two hits on the day.
“It’s mostly about location,” Shain said. “We were mixing up our pitches, working both sides of the plate, keeping hitters off balance. We had a really good plan back there.”
Senior R.J. Archer came on to throw one-and-a-third innings of scoreless relief, while sophomore Matt Davenport held the Tar Heels scoreless over the final two-and-two-thirds innings to pick up his first save of the season.
The Tribe was held scoreless until the sixth inning, when junior shortstop Derrick Osteen led off with a sinking line drive into left field which he hustled into a double. Sophomore Stephen Arcure followed with a double of his own down the left field line to score Osteen.
Sophomore first baseman Tadd Bower would add a fielder’s choice RBI to make the score 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Leoni then made the decision to bring in Archer, a former Tribe quarterback, for his first collegiate appearance of his career.
“We felt like we had to use him sometime. We’ve only used something like eight guys this season with all the rainouts and we haven’t had a chance to get him in,” Leoni said. “Coming into today, we felt like we were going to use him.”
Archer went to a full count on Tar Heels leadoff hitter Ben Bunting before striking him out with a slider for the first out of the sixth.
“That 3-2 slider was the most important pitch of the ballgame. It changed the entire complexion of the way the game would be played by getting that out,” Leoni said.
Sophomore Chris Forsten added an RBI single in the eighth to extend the lead.
With the win, the Tribe has now defeated an ACC squad in each of the last three years. Two years ago, they defeated nationally ranked Virginia, and last season they came back to take down Virginia Tech 14-10.
Yet this win was the most imprssive, as the Tar Heels have made it to the College World Series in each of the past four seasons.
“It’s a huge win for our program, especially after LSU,” Leoni said. “We have been working real hard and we needed a win today.”
After the game, the players celebrated quickly before heading into the handshake line, the atmosphere more like a win at postseason regional than a midweek game.
“It’s a great win. I really don’t know what to say,” Shain said. “I’m just speechless right now.”