“Hopefully this is just a bump in the road for us offensively,” Fox said. “But, I think they could really, really pitch.”
That high level of pitching left UNC in a tough spot at the plate. The Tar Heels struggled to string together hits, leaving 10 men on base in the second game.
“Hitting is contagious, and all it takes is just one good swing and it just keeps on rolling,” Gahagan said. “But this weekend, we just didn’t have that roll.”
Things corrected Sunday, when UNC got eight hits for eight runs and strung together multiple multi-run innings.
“It’s refreshing to see,” said senior outfielder Tyler Lynn, who had a two-RBI triple that put UNC ahead for good in Sunday’s contest. “It’s easier to just go out there and play.”
First-year infielder Ike Freeman agreed. He went 2-for-2 with a RBI-double and home run on Sunday.
“I’ve been hitting balls, they just find people,” Freeman said. “It’s nice for it to finally find a hole.”
The bats were not the whole story. The Tar Heel’s eight errors against the Dirtbags were four times what they had made in the season before this weekend, resulting in eight unearned runs. Long Beach State’s speed gave the infield fits, forcing quick throws that sailed away from fielders and tough plays that became infield hits.
“As mediocre as we were offensively, and again I got to tip my hat to their pitching,” Fox said. “If we play defense, we still potentially win the series.”
Fox said UNC’s bunt defense was lacking, noting mistakes from pitchers J.B. Bukauskas and Josh Hiatt on Friday. But he said a team as fast as Long Beach State creates that pressure.
For now, Fox is content with Sunday’s win, noting the experience may help UNC develop before next weekend’s series against Virginia to open conference play.
“It was a good series for us,” Fox said. “It’ll prepare us for what’s coming.”