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LSU head baseball coach Jay Johnson calls Diamond Heels a national title contender

Three days ago, the UNC baseball team was three outs away from watching its season end.

North Carolina trailed the defending champion LSU Tigers, 3-2, after an early offensive explosion from both teams. The Diamond Heels scored two quick runs in the first inning, followed by LSU taking a lead with a groundout and two home runs.

Friday night hero Gavin Gallaher was on second base – with one out –in the top of the ninth. UNC starting shortstop Colby Wilkerson faced a quick 0-2 count, sending a shockwave of worry through the Boshamer Stadium crowd.

Wilkerson battled back to a 2-2 count, then sent the game-tying single into  left field. After North Carolina closer Dalton Pence worked around a Hayden Travinski single in the bottom half, Alex Madera gave the Diamond Heels a 4-3 lead on a full-count, 2-out single in the top of the 10th.

Pence walked Jared Jones and later watched as a Josh Pearson fly ball head into deep center field, but 2-time ACC Defensive Player of the year Vance Honeycutt caught Pearson’s fly ball and ended the Chapel Hill Regional.

With all of this being said – and heartbreak surely creeping through the LSU dugout – Tigers head coach Jay Johnson praised UNC as a team that can win the College World Series.

“They might win it,” Jay Johnson said about the Diamond Heels in postgame interviews Monday night. “They have the pieces to win the national title. They’re built for the ballpark in Omaha. They do a terrific job coaching.”

I can’t imagine this was easy for Johnson to say, but I appreciate the vote of confidence from one of the best coaches in college baseball. He helped LSU to its seventh CWS title last year, so he truly knows what to look for in a title contender.

UNC now welcomes West Virginia to Boshamer Stadium for the Chapel Hill Super Regional, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. ET on Friday, June 7.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire