By Andy Hess
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It's over.
Corky Palmer's historic season and coaching career at Southern Miss ended in Omaha after the No. 4-seed North Carolina pounded the Golden Eagles in the 11-4 victory Tuesday.
The early exit from the College World Series could have been because of the jitters or pitching troubles, but Dustin Ackley and North Carolina's bats might be the number one reason.
Ackley, the No. 2 overall selection of the Seattle Mariners in last week's major league amateur draft, went 5-for-6 and became the CWS' career hits leader breaking the record of 24 career hits by Stanford's Sam Fuld (2001-03) with a single to left in the third inning.
"It seemed like every time I shaded the middle he'd hit it through the four-hole and every time I shaded the four-hole he'd hit it up the middle," USM second baseman James Ewing told fanhouse.com of Ackley's at-bats.
But it wasn't just Ackley that was putting the ball in play. North Carolina blasted a record-tying 23 hits. Ryan Graepel had four hits, Ben Bunting had three and Kyle Seager homered respectively.
UNC's Adam Warren allowed three hits and sat down six USM batters in six innings. USM, which walked in the winning run against Texas, struggled with pitching early. Starter JR Ballinger was down 6-0 with two men on when he left in the third inning.
"North Carolina is a good club. They hit well, pitch well and played good defense. We just didn't match up very well with seven left-handers in the lineup," Palmer told fanhouse.com. "It was a tough day, kind of my worst nightmare."