North Carolina and Auburn are playing a winner-take-all Game 3 in their Chapel Hill Super Regional Monday afternoon. As of the time of writing, the Tar Heels have yet to bat, but the Tigers are almost certainly going to win and punch their ticket to the 2019 College World Series.
That’s because North Carolina just struggled its way through the worst opening inning ever staged in a Super Regional. And now it trails 13-0 after 0.5 innings.
The Diamond Heels suffered through a 17-batter, 50-minute top of the first that began with starting pitcher Joey Lancelotti facing four Tigers and walking every single one. His day ended after 19 pitches — 16 of which were balls.
Four straight walks and we're on the board. ☝️— Auburn Baseball (@AuburnBaseball) June 10, 2019
Bases juiced with nobody out as North Carolina goes to the 'pen.
T1 | AU 1, UNC 0 pic.twitter.com/2zrCKgsRPB
Things got better from there, but only because they couldn’t really get worse. Reliever Connor Ollio induced what could have been an inning-redeeming strikeout, then gave up a pair of RBI singles — the second on a safety squeeze bunt — to make it 4-0 before UNC could secure a second out.
From there, everything got considerably worse.
Another RBI single chased Ollio. His replacement, Hansen Butler, made an immediate mark on the game by getting his second pitch of the day dropped over the right-centerfield fence to make the score 8-0.
The Tigers weren’t done there. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corner, and an infield error made the score 9-0. Two more base hits pushed the score to 11-0. Only a baserunning error on another RBI single would finally end North Carolina’s nightmare start — but not before giving Auburn a 13-0 cushion before the Tar Heels could even come to bat.
How bad was it for UNC? Here’s the ERA each of their pitchers recorded in today’s half-inning of work:
Joey Lancelloti: infinite
Connor Ollio: 40.50
Hansen Butler: also infinite
Will Sandy: 0.00!
There’s still plenty of time for the Diamond Heels to come back, and college baseball is wacky enough to write the greatest comeback story of all time. If it happens, it’ll have to happen without three of UNC’s top pitchers, however. They were busy teaming up to record two outs in the most brutal start in Super Regional history.