Tar Heels eager to make up for last year's mistakes

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An error allowed the game-winner to score in last year's title game.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When Tim Federowicz watches replays of the error that cost North Carolina last year's College World Series championship, he laughs.

Maybe that's because he knows the Tar Heels are in position to make up for it.

"We get a second chance," Federowicz said Tuesday.

A year after North Carolina threw away its first national championship in baseball by playing terrible defense in the title game, the Tar Heels are headed back to Rosenblatt Stadium. Beginning with their opener Friday against Mississippi State, they hope to accomplish what they couldn't last June.

"I don't want to leave Omaha with that same feeling I did last year," second baseman Garrett Gore said.

North Carolina (53-13) has drawn a season's worth of motivation from the mistake-filled way its last trip to Omaha, Neb., ended.

The Tar Heels committed four errors in the winner-take-all title game against Oregon State, and none were more costly than backup second baseman Bryan Steed's.

With the score tied at 2-2 and two outs in the eighth, Steed fielded a routine grounder and threw wide to first. Federowicz, a catcher-turned-first baseman, couldn't come up with it and that allowed Bill Rowe to score the go-ahead run from second.

"You've just got to forget things like that. You can't let it stay on you too long," Federowicz said. "You've got to flush it down the toilet, forget about it after that. ... I watch it and kind of laugh at it now. You can say that lost the game for us, but we also had a chance to tie it back up."

Having one more chance at a title was a big reason why Robert Woodard returned to the Tar Heels.

Woodard was selected in the late rounds by the St. Louis Cardinals, and he seriously contemplated going pro and joining fellow weekend starters Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard -- picked in the first round by Detroit and Boston, respectively.

"No question, I was definitely thinking about it," said Woodard, a lifelong Tar Heels fan. "After a lot of talking with my family and the Cardinals, I just came to the conclusion that I feel like I had something really special to come back to at Carolina."

North Carolina has successfully advanced through each stage of the season with a sense of purpose, moving within one victory of tying the school record of 54 wins, a mark set last year.

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