His hit to center field dropped just before the centerfielder could get to it and it rolled past him all the way to the centerfield fence. Roberts’ speed brought him all the way home.
In the seventh, sophomore Ike Freeman punctuated the victory for the Tar Heels with a solo homer to left field. His home run challenged the distance of Datres’ blast in the second inning; it landed halfway up the outfield net. North Carolina further put the game out of reach in the eighth inning, scoring one run and bringing the score to its final, 9-3.
Head coach Mike Fox went deep into the North Carolina bullpen, using a total of six pitchers. Starter Tyler Baum went four innings and allowed one earned run. Caden O’Brien was credited with the win, and Joey Lancellotti and Brett Daniels also saw action.
Hansen Butler took the mound in the ninth. He recorded a strikeout, but also allowed a hit and a walk before he was pulled by a cautious Fox. Josh Hiatt took over with two men on base and closed out the game. He walked his first batter to load the bases but forced a fly out on the next and struck out the final batter to secure the win for the Tar Heels.
Who stood out?
Right fielder Dallas Tessar occupied the leadoff spot and led the way for the Tar Heels. He reached base in every at bat, going 3-4 with a hit by pitch in the first inning.
His constant presence on base kept the Georgia Tech pitching staff on edge and the Tar heels threatening. Tessar got it done both with hitting and baserunning. In the sixth, Tessar reached first on a hard hit single that deflected off the glove of the second baseman.
He stole second, but the throw from the catcher beat Tessar to second by a wide margin. Tessar was able to steal the base and stay on when he deftly angled his body away from the short stop and moved his right arm right above the tag.
When was it decided?
A five-run second inning gave North Carolina an early lead and all the cushion it would need for the rest of the game. The Tar Heels had left three men stranded in the bottom of the first, but when opportunity knocked again in the second, the Tar Heels answered.
A Tessar single loaded the bases and brought Michael Busch up to bat with only one out. Busch took advantage with a line drive up the middle. The single drove in two runs and put North Carolina up, 2-1.
But the danger for the Yellow Jackets wasn’t yet cleared. Busch was still on first and had advanced a runner to third. Still with only one out, Datres stepped up to the plate in prime position to increase the Tar Heels’ lead. He did just that, with a blast that looked destined to leave the park the moment it left the bat. His homer drove in three runs.
Why does it matter?
The win moved North Carolina ahead of Duke for first place in the ACC Coastal division. North Carolina’s conference record now stands at 13-6.
Duke dropped a home game to NC State Friday night as well, moving the Blue Devils one game back to 12-6. After this series, North Carolina will only have three conference series left in the season. With series remaining against Duke and NC State —which has the best record in the ACC — a sweep would be critical to UNC’s chances of finishing on top of the ACC Coastal.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will go for the series win against Georgia Tech on Saturday at 4 p.m. The series wraps up at 1 p.m Sunday at Boshamer Stadium.
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