UNC Basketball Legend Watches Tar Heels Win CWS Opener

A certain UNC basketball treasure was in Omaha to witness the Diamond Heels' walk-off victory over Virginia.
UNC baseball players at College World Series
UNC baseball players at College World Series / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

There may currently be thousands of passionate baseball fans in Omaha, Neb., this week for the College World Series, but none may be as famous as one UNC baseball fan who was spotted at the Tar Heels’ opening game.

In the stands for Friday afternoon’s contest was passionate Tar Heel enthusiast and retired UNC basketball head coach Roy Williams, who spent 28 seasons in Chapel Hill as a member of the coaching staff, including 18 years at the helm in leading the program to three national championships.

The Tar Heel legend was treated to an entertaining game and eventual UNC baseball victory, with the team snatching a come-from-behind 3-2 win after a walk-off single from none other than Vance Honeycutt.

Playing in the opening game of both their specific bracket and the College World Series as a whole, the Tar Heels were matched up with a familiar ACC foe in the Virginia Cavaliers. UNC had traveled to Charlottesville earlier this season, where the Diamond Heels dropped two in a three-game series, allowing 28 runs across the contests.

However, Friday told a different story. The Tar Heel pitching staff was able to hold the Virginia bats under control to eventually allow the comeback victory.

The No. 4 ranked Tar Heels enjoyed an early lead thanks to a first inning RBI from Anthony Donofrio. But they were unable to produce any other runs, and Virginia later took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning.

A single from Casey Cook in the bottom of the seventh tied the game at two apiece before UNC got its game-winning opportunity with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

After allowing a leadoff pinch-hit double from Jackson Van De Brake, Virginia found itself just one out away from forcing extra innings with Honeycutt up to the plate.

Despite being no stranger to a walk-off, just a week removed from his game-ending homer in the Super Regionals, Honeycutt stepped to the plate batting 0-for-4 on the day. A pitch left over the plate by the Cavaliers’ Chase Hungate gave the Tar Heel superstar an opportunity, though, and he lined a base hit into left field for the walk-off celebration.

Friday’s victory keeps the UNC baseball program in the winner’s bracket of its four-team pod that includes Virginia as well as Florida State and Tennessee. The Tar Heels await the winner between the latter two teams for their next game on Sunday.

Chances are the legendary UNC basketball head coach will be in attendance once more. Perhaps his presence will help continue the Diamond Heels’ magical run.

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Cam Robertson