UNC baseball sees season end with 2-1 loss to Davidson
UNC baseball came within inches of at least keeping its season alive for one more inning.
Instead, the Tar Heels, the No. 2 national seed making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2014, are done for the season after losing to Davidson 2-1 Sunday night at Boshamer Stadium.
Trailing by one run, UNC (49-14) nearly pulled even on a single to right field by Zack Gahagan, as Brandon Riley attempted to score from second base.
Davidson right fielder Will Robertson’s throw arrived nearly simultaneously with Riley at the plate, who evaded the initial tag by Jake Sidwell, but also overslid home plate. He was tagged out, keeping the score at 2-1.
One at-bat later, UNC’s Michael Busch grounded out to first to end the game, though many UNC players and coaches appeared to contest that Davidson pitcher Durin O’Linger, who covered first on the play, did not have his foot on the bag.
The loss marks the second time since 2012 that the Tar Heels failed to win a regional held in Chapel Hill and it also brings UNC’s season, which featured 49 wins, 10 ACC series wins in as many tries and an ACC Coastal crown, to a sourly premature end.
Davidson, meanwhile, will face the winner of the Houston Regional in the super regional round next weekend.
UNC dug itself in a hole by losing to Davidson in its tournament opener Friday, but battled back with wins against Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast to force a rematch with the Wildcats.
And like it did Friday, UNC struggled at the plate against Josh Hudson, a Davidson pitcher who was able to effectively fool the Tar Heels with a consistent barrage of well-placed off-speed pitches.
And while UNC starting pitcher Taylor Sugg did a better job of limiting the Wildcats than Tar Heel ace J.B. Bukauskas did on Friday, Davidson was able to do just enough offensively, scoring both of its runs on an infield single from Will Robertson in the fifth off UNC reliever Josh Hiatt, who inherited both baserunners who scored from Sugg.
A half-inning later, first-year Michael Busch brought UNC within a run with home run to right-center.
After that, UNC continued to struggle at the plate until the ninth. There were opportunities to score, tie the game up and head into extras then. But instead, North Carolina walked off the field for the last time in 2017.