CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Danny Bethea hit a walk-off three-run homer to help St. John’s stun North Carolina 5-4 on Saturday night.
Bethea’s shot sent Red Storm players spilling onto the field to celebrate at home plate. St. John’s (39-21) can reach the NCAA tournament’s super regionals with a win Sunday night.
North Carolina (45-15), the No. 6 national seed, appeared on its way to its 17th straight win as a regional host thanks to a two-run homer from Shell McCain and a strong performance from starter Kent Emanuel. But Jeremy Baltz had a leadoff double against reliever Michael Morin (6-4) in the ninth, then Sean O’Hare reached on an infield hit to set up Bethea’s homer.
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Emanuel allowed five hits and two runs in eight innings for the Tar Heels, the top seed in the Chapel Hill Regional. St. John’s starter Sean Hagan allowed eight hits and four runs in 8 1/3 innings.
The third-seeded Red Storm led 2-1 until McCain followed a double from Tommy Coyle by knocking Hagan’s first pitch over the left-field wall in the sixth. The Tar Heels increased the lead to 4-2 in the ninth when Parks Jordan sent an RBI double down the right-field line.
North Carolina opted to pull Emanuel after 102 pitches for Morin, who had tied a school single-season record with his 18th save Friday against Cornell.
The Tar Heels face second-seeded East Carolina in an elimination game Sunday.