Photo: North Carolina

Emanuel shines on Opening Day

College : : Story
Allan Simpson        
Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013

UNC’s Emanuel Steals Rodon’s Thunder
On Opening Day of College Season

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—North Carolina lefthander Kent Emanuel will never be confused with North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon in the eyes of scouts, but for one day at least—the Opening Day of the 2013 NCAA Division I baseball season—Emanuel upstaged his more celebrated pitching counterpart.

As the No. 1 arm on the nation’s No. 1-ranked college team, Emanuel was in mid-season form in pitching the Tar Heels to a tight 1-0 win over Seton Hall. He went the distance, walking none and scattering four singles while becoming the first UNC pitcher in 46 years to pitch a season-opening shutout.

Pitching a mere 20 miles away in front of a record Opening Day crowd at N.C. State, Rodon was rocked for three homers in his 2013 debut as the No. 8 Wolfpack unexpectedly fell 6-3 to Appalachian State. It was the first career loss for the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2014 draft class—and the first loss of any kind for Rodon since 2010, when he was a high-school junior.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Emanuel mowed down the Pirates with ease through eight innings, and worked his way out of a ninth-inning jam when he struck out 3-hole hitter Giuseppe Papaccio and got cleanup hitter Sal Annunziata on a comebacker, leaving Seton Hall runners stranded at second and third.

He worked with precision-like command throughout in subduing Seton Hall, mixing in a fastball that typically sat in the 87-89 mph range, topping occasionally at 90, with a slow, tantalizing curve at 70-71 mph and changeup. He threw 106 pitches, 78 for strikes.

The 6-3, 235-pound Rodon, meanwhile, was rocked for a three-run, first-inning homer by Appalachian State freshman Jaylin Davis, and surrendered solo blasts to Preston Troutman in the second and Noah Holmes in the fourth. He exited after six innings, trailing 5-2 and the Wolfpack was never able to make up the deficit.

Rodon fanned eight and walked one in his debut, while working with a mid-90s fastball, his trademark dominant slider and improved changeup, though his command was spotty. Unlike Emanuel, he left several pitches up in the strike zone and paid the price.

Even with the scintillating effort by Emanuel and the disappointing showing by Rodon, the performance of the two southpaws did little, if anything to impact their standing among scouts. Rodon still remains an overwhelming favorite to be the top pick in the draft a year from now, while Emanuel (ranked No. 79 by Perfect Game among prospects for this year’s draft) only solidified his stock as a solid third- to fourth-rounder.

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