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Fedora says his Tar Heels are the underdogs this week against ECU

bluefedoraMany times coaches from bigger programs try to win the psyche-out battle by playing up the smaller program’s teams. UNC coach Larry Fedora doesn’t have to do that after East Carolina, 12 point underdogs, hammered the Tar Heels 55-21 last season. This time many oddsmakers have ECU, playing in Greenville, slightly favored over UNC (generally two or three points).

East Carolina has been the team with the inferiority complex and perhaps a certain amount of jealousy that North Carolina gets more attention being in the ACC and having a large fan base, despite the Pirates having arguably better teams.

Let’s face it, East Carolina fans rather beat North Carolina than another other team in the country with the possible exception of NC State. North Carolina fans don’t value the game as much but perhaps after the embarrassment last season, the Tar Heel players will. We know the ECU players and fans will be as fired up as if they were the underdogs.

“I don’t think our guys have to be convinced that it’s going to be intense. I think they understand that,” Fedora said. “I think we’re the underdogs going into this game from my understanding, from what I hear about everything.”

And the Pirates have the home field edge. “We’re going to go into a place that’s going to be a sold out, hostile crowd,” he said. “I’ve never really thought about any team that you play, their fans really liking you, so it’s kind of the same way every time, and so they may be a little more rabid than somewhere else.”

He said it will be an environment that should be a lot of fun to play in. Not if you get beat 55-21 again coach.


Duke football raises awareness of Sickle Cell research

dukefootballDuke football is teaming up with Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, a nationally-ranked pediatric academic medical center, for the inaugural “Score for More Sickle Cell Research and Care” to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and to continue research to find successful treatments and a cure.

“Sickle cell impacts the lives of children and adults in our community, including student-athletes within our Duke Athletics program,” said Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe. “We are proud to partner with Duke Children’s to bring awareness to this common condition that impacts individuals, and to advance research to further our understanding of sickle cell so that we can one day find a cure to improve the quality of life for infants, children and adults with sickle cell.”

The community is invited to support ongoing research at Duke Children’s for sickle cell disease with a donation by texting DUKEKIDS to 50555 to donate $10 for Duke Children’s.

Score for More Sickle Cell Research and Care will culminate to the Duke-Tulane home football game this Saturday, Sept. 20. The game will feature special “Score for More Sickle Cell Research and Care” programs, and celebrate Duke Children’s Pediatric Hematology-Oncology researchers, faculty, staff, care givers, patients, and families.


Hurricanes training camp open to the public

hurricanespuckThe Hurricanes have invited 51 players to their main training camp, including five goaltenders, 18 defensemen and 28 forwards.

All training camp practices are open to the media. See the training camp schedule by clicking here.

Seventeen players who represented the Hurricanes for the last five days during the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, MI, will join the main camp: forwards Phil Di Giuseppe, Patrick Brown, Clark Bishop, Victor Rask, Brock McGinn, Brendan Woods, Sergey Tolchinsky, Brent Pedersen and Carter Sandlak; defensemen Haydn Fleury, Josh Wesley, Dennis Robertson, Trevor Carrick, Kyle Jenkins and Tyler Ganly; and goaltenders Alex Nedeljkovic and Daniel Altshuller.

The Hurricanes will open training camp with player physicals on Sept. 18, and then hit the ice for their first official practices at PNC Arena on Friday, Sept. 19., beginning at 8:55 a.m. The team will play its first preseason game at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, at PNC Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Carolina opens its 2014-15 regular season against the New York Islanders on Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at PNC Arena.

The Carolina Hurricanes open their 2014 exhibition schedule at PNC Arena on Sept. 21 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and will kick off the 2014-15 regular-season campaign on Oct. 10 against the New York Islanders. For information about 2014-15 Hurricanes ticket packages, please call 1-866-NHL-CANES (1-866-645-2263) or visit www.CarolinaHurricanes.com/tickets.

- From news release


State, UNC volleyballers honored by the ACC

EceTanerNorth Carolina senior libero Ece Taner and NC State freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Kearney have earned this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference volleyball honors, as Taner was named Player of the Week and Kearney was tabbed Freshman of the Week.

Taner led the Tar Heels to three victories over the weekend in the 18th annual Carolina Classic, including a signature victory over No. 16 Kentucky. In the five set thriller, Ece led the UNC defense with 21 digs and helped hold the Wildcats to a .237 hitting percentage, including a .000 attack percentage in the decisive fifth set. Taner chipped in four service aces on the weekend, including three against Georgia Southern. For her efforts, Taner was named the MVP of the Carolina Classic.

NC State’s Kearney had the best weekend of her young career and was rewarded with Georgia Tournament MVP honors. For the tournament, she averaged 3.27 kills per set and also chipped in with eight blocks. The Frisco, Texas native had her most impressive match of the weekend against the toughest competition in host Georgia. Kearney smashed 15 kills in the contest with only one error to register a .412 attacking percentage. She finished the weekend with 36 kills and a .403 hitting percentage.

- News release


PawSox limit Bulls to three hits to take Governors’ Cup

pawsokThe Pawtucket Red Sox limited the Durham Bulls to just three hits Saturday night at the DBAP, earning a 4-1 victory over the Bulls en route to the franchise’s fourth Governors’ Cup crown.

Pawtucket was in command from the start, scoring the game’s first run in the top of the first inning when Bryce Brentz doubled to left field, scoring Ivan De Jesus. In the third the visitors doubled their lead when Rusney Castillo doubled to right-center field, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of De Jesus.

In the fifth the 2014 Wild Card winners struck again, this time when Ryan Lavarnway sent a solo homer over the Blue Monster to lead off the frame. Lavarnway, who closed the IL playoffs with a .324 batting average and six RBIs, was the named the 2014 Postseason MVP. The 2012 Governors’ Cup champions tacked on insurance in the eighth inning as Corey Brown’s double to right field scored Garin Cecchini, who had doubled earlier in the frame.

Durham plated its lone run in the bottom of the ninth, when with one out Jeremy Moore cracked a solo homer into the right field seats. The next two batters went down in order however, clinching Pawtucket’s second title in the last three seasons.

Right-hander Kevin Couch (1-0) led the way for Pawtucket on the mound, as in his first Triple-A appearance of 2014 the 24-year-old allowed just one hit in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking just two. Miguel Celestino picked up the save for the visitors, allowing one run on two hits while recording the contest’s final seven outs. Righty Merrill Kelly (0-1) took the loss for the Bulls, allowing three runs on eight hits in five innings. Southpaw Enny Romero tossed two scoreless frames out of the bullpen, while CJ Riefenhauser allowed a run in the eighth before Josh Lueke tossed a scoreless ninth.

Pawtucket, which fell the Durham in the 2013 Governors’ Cup Final, will now face the winner of the Pacific Coast League championship on Tuesday night at BB&T Ballpark in the 2014 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. They’ll take on either the Reno Aces or the Omaha StormChasers, who are tied 2-2 in the Best-of-Five finals.

Durham Bulls’ Mikie Mahtook tweeted, “Thank you @DurhamBulls for the great year. By far the best season of my professional career. First class organization.”


Bulls, within a hair of winning, fall in 13th as PawSox force final game

Ivan De Jesus Jr.

Ivan De Jesus Jr.

The Pawtucket Red Sox struck for a two-run homer in the top of the 13th inning to defeat the Durham Bulls 4-2 Friday night at the DBAP, forcing a decisive Game Five Saturday night.

Down to their final strike in the top of the ninth, PawSox leadoff hitter Rusney Castillo lined a pitch into center field off the Bulls’ 2014 Pitcher of the Year Adam Liberatore, scoring pinch runner Derrik Gibson and tying the contest at 2-2. After the teams traded three scoreless innings, Ivan De Jesus crushed a two-run, two-out dinger over the Blue Monster in the top of the 13th frame to propel the Red Sox in front 4-2. In the bottom of the inning the Bulls brought the winning run to the plate, but Nick Franklin lined out to deep right field to end the contest, stranding a pair of runners.

In the 11th the Bulls had a chance to win it, as Cole Figueroa worked a one-out walk and stole second base with Mikie Mahtook at the dish. Mahtook proceeded to line a single to left field, but Bryce Brentz gunned down Figueroa at home plate, preserving the tie. Jeremy Moore followed with a single to left-center field to advance Mahtook to third, but Tim Beckham popped out to short, ending the threat.

Pawtucket scored in the very first inning on a two-out RBI single to left field from Ryan Lavarnway, scoring De Jesus. The Bulls came back in the fourth though, as Beckham led off with a single and Franklin singled two batters later. Mike Fontenot’s single scored Beckham to tie the game, before Luke Maile’s double to right field put Durham ahead 2-1.

Jose Valdez (1-0) earned the win for Pawtucket, tossing a scoreless 12th and 13th inning, while right-hander Jake Thompson (0-1) suffered the loss, surrendering two runs on four hits in two innings. Durham starter Mike Montgomery turned in a gritty effort, lasting six innings, walking six and allowing three hits but surrendering just one run, while Pawtucket starter Eduardo Rodriguez, making his Triple-A debut, spun seven innings of two-run baseball as neither starter factored into the decision.

Since manager Charlie Montoyo took over the Bulls prior to the 2007 season, Durham has played three Game Fives, winning two of them. The lone loss came in the 2007 Governors’ Cup Final when the squad fell to the Richmond Braves.

A win Saturday would be Durham’s fifth Governors’ Cup in the past 13 seasons, and third since Montoyo took over. Durham has a chance to clinch its first Governors’ Cup championship at home since 2002, and become the first IL team to win the crown on its home field since Richmond did so over the Bulls in 2007.

Game Five pits Durham RHP Merrill Kelly (9-4, 2.76; 1-0, 1.50) against Pawtucket RHP Keith Couch (NR, 8-2, 2.96 in Double-A), who will be making just his second career appearance at the Triple-A level. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the DBAP.

- News release


Bulls hold off PawSox; one win away from title

Matt Andriese.

Matt Andriese.

For the second straight night the Durham Bulls scored a one-run victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox, earning a 4-3 win Thursday night at the DBAP. The win gives the Bulls a 2-1 series lead in the Best-of-Five Governors’ Cup Final and moves the squad within one win of its second straight International League Title.

Leading 4-2 in the top of the ninth, Durham turned to right-hander Josh Lueke to record the save. The reliever retired the first batter he faced, but Ryan Lavarnway reached on a passed ball on strike three a batter later. Garin Cecchini then ripped an RBI double into the right field corner, but Lueke induced a groundout and a pop out to strand Cecchini and earn his first save of the postseason.

The PawSox struck for the contest’s first run in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by Corey Brown, and doubled their lead in the top of the third when a double play scored Deven Marrero.

In the bottom of the third the Bulls took the lead for good though, striking for a trio of runs. Justin Christian led off with a double, and advanced to third when Marrero, Pawtucket’s shortstop, fielded Cole Figueroa’s ground ball and failed to throw out Christian at third. Two batters later Jeremy Moore grounded an RBI single through the right side, before Tim Beckham delivered a two-run double to the right-center field gap for a 3-2 lead.

In the sixth Durham struck again when second baseman Nick Franklin launched a solo homer into the right field seats for a 4-2 advantage. Franklin, who is batting .417 in the postseason, finished the night 2-for-3 as he was the lone Bull to register a multi-hit night.

Right-hander Matt Andriese (2-0) earned the win with six solid innings of two run ball, walking none and striking out eight. Southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser tossed two shutout innings out of the bullpen before Lueke notched the save. With the three relief innings, the Durham bullpen has yet to allow an earned run in the Governors’ Cup Final, spanning 17 2/3 innings. PawSox southpaw Henry Owens (0-1) took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks in four innings.

The win puts Durham in a position to win its fifth Governors’ Cup in the past 13 seasons, and third since manager Charlie Montoyo took over prior to the 2007 season. With a win tomorrow night, Durham will clinch its first Governors’ Cup championship at home since 2002, and become the first IL team to win the crown on its home field since the Richmond Braves defeated the Bulls in 2007.

The Best-of-Five Governors’ Cup Final continues Friday night at the DBAP when the Bulls send LHP Mike Montgomery (10-5, 4.29; NR) to the hill opposite LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (NR; 3-1, 0.96 in Double-A) who will be making his Triple-A debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

- News release


UNC’s Walker earns national defensive back of the week

UNC's Walker.

UNC’s Walker.

After notching two interceptions in North Carolina’s 31-27 win over San Diego State, sophomore cornerback Brian Walker (Charlotte, NC) has been named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week.

Walker’s performance helped lead North Carolina to their first 2-0 start since the 2011 season.

In the opening quarter, Walker returned his first interception of the game 100 yards for a touchdown to give North Carolina an early 7-0 lead. His second interception was in the fourth quarter that set up a field goal to put the Tar Heels up by four.

The Jim Thorpe Award is one of the most coveted awards in college football. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.

The Jim Thorpe Award watch list is chosen by a screening committee who compile a list of 30-50 players. The list is not final, and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses. The Thorpe Award Winner is selected from three finalists and will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 11, 2014 on ESPN.

The Jim Thorpe Award Banquet will be held on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Jim Thorpe Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 699 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org to learn more about our story.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 12-day period this month. Fifteen of the association’s 21 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the complete 2014 preseason watch list calendar.


Bulls come back to even series with 11th inning run

Mike Fontenot.

Mike Fontenot.

The Durham Bulls tied the game in the top of the ninth inning and went on to score the winning run in the 11th inning for a 4-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox in Game Two of the Governors’ Cup Final Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium, tying the Best-of-Five series at one game apiece.

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth, Bulls first baseman Vince Belnome blasted a 2-2 breaking ball over the fence in right-center field for a solo home run, tying the game at 3-3. Then in the 11th Belnome worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a walk to Ali Solis. Designated hitter Mike Fontenot followed with an RBI single to right field to score Belnome and put the defending champions on top 4-3.

In the bottom of the 11th southpaw Adam Liberatore (1-0) worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless inning, aided by a sliding catch in right field by Jeremy Moore to lead off the frame. The left-hander earned the victory by tossing 1 2/3 shutout frames, while working out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th.

The home side jumped on the board in the first frame when Ryan Lavarnway grounded out with the bases loaded, scoring Rusney Castillo from third base. In the second the Red Sox struck again, this time when Corey Brown launched a two-run homer over the right field wall for a 3-0 lead.

Durham bounced back in the top of the third though. Justin Christian singled with one out, and later in the frame Mikie Mahtook crushed a two-run dinger to left-center field to cut the deficit to one.

After Bulls starter Alex Colome lasted just 1 1/3 innings, the Durham bullpen took over. Jake Thompson (2.2), Merrill Kelly (2.0), C.J. Riefenhauser (1.1), Josh Lueke (2.0) and Liberatore (1.2) combined to post 9 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing just six hits and striking out eight. After five shutout innings in Game One, the Durham bullpen has now posted 14 2/3 shutout innings in the Governors’ Cup Final, and has allowed just one run over its last 25 2/3 frames in the 2014 postseason.

John Ely (0-1) suffered the loss for Pawtucket, allowing one on three walks in 1 1/3 frames.

The series shifts to Durham Bulls Athletic Park Thursday, as the Bulls send RHP Matt Andriese (11-8, 3.77; 1-0, 3.60) to the mound opposite LHP Henry Owens (3-1, 4.03; 0-0, 11.25) for the PawSox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

- News release


Pawtucket nips Durham Bulls in Game One of championship series

bullsbaseballThe Pawtucket Red Sox scored three runs over the contest’s first three frames to defeat the Durham Bulls 3-2 in Game One of the best-of-Five Governors’ Cup Final Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.

The 2014 Wild Card winners plated the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning, as Travis Shaw delivered a two-out single to center field to score Ivan De Jesus. In the second the home side doubled its lead when Deven Marrero singled to right field, scoring Blake Swihart for a 2-0 advantage.

Durham struck back in the top of the third though, as Ray Olmedo and Justin Christian notched back-to-back one-out singles. After a groundout advanced each runner, Bulls 2014 MVP Mikie Mahtook drilled a single to center field, scoring a pair and tying the contest.

The tie proved to be short-lived however, as Garin Cecchini’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third gave put the PawSox back on top by a 3-2 score.

The Bulls threatened in both the eighth and the ninth innings, putting two runners aboard in the eighth and loading the bases with just one out in the ninth. The defending champions failed to convert either opportunity though, stranding nine men on base in the contest.

Left-hander Edwin Escobar (1-0) earned the win, allowing two runs on six hits over seven frames, while righty Heath Hembree picked up a four-out save, his second save of the postseason. Southpaw Enny Romero (0-1) absorbed the loss, surrendering three runs on six hits in three innings while throwing 77 pitches. Durham’s bullpen blanked the Red Sox the rest of the way, as right-hander Doug Mathis turned in three scoreless frames while Cory Burns tossed a scoreless seventh and eighth, combining to allow just one hit.

Game Two takes place Wednesday night in Pawtucket as RHP Alex Colome (7-6, 3.77; 0-1, 7.20) takes the mound for Durham against Pawtucket LHP Brian Johnson (NR; 10-2, 1.75 in Double-A), who will be making his Triple-A debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from McCoy Stadium.

- News release