Duke, meanwhile, relied completely on the long ball, with all six of its runs coming on three home runs. The Blue Devils’ final homer, left fielder Jimmy Herron’s second of the game, came with two outs in the ninth off of UNC senior reliever Brett Daniels and made it a two-run game. Tar Heel redshirt sophomore Josh Hiatt recorded the final out, however, after allowing a single that brought the game-tying run to the plate.
Sophomore Tyler Baum earned his fourth win of the season for the Tar Heels, giving up four runs in five innings of work.
Roberts, who went 2-3 with a double and scored two runs, was forced to exit the game in the seventh after a foul tip hit him between his legs. In a great deal of pain, he remained down for several minutes before walking off the field to an applause from the crowd.
“I think he’s been taken to the emergency room,” Fox said of Roberts. “I don’t have any update. I just ask our trainers; no update at this time.”
Before his injury, Roberts excelled at the plate. His double in the third started a two-out rally for the Tar Heels, who scored their first five runs with two outs. Sophomore shortstop Ike Freeman’s second hit of the day, a single to left field, plated Roberts, and sophomore Ashton McGee gave the Tar Heels the lead with a hard-hit infield single.
One inning later, UNC wore down Duke starter Adam Laskey, who struggled with his control. Walks to UNC sophomore designated hitter Brandon Martorano, sophomore first baseman Michael Busch and Roberts loaded the bases in the fourth for the Tar Heels, who capitalized with a two-RBI single by junior right fielder Brandon Riley and another RBI single by Freeman.
Freeman, who’s hitting .287 on the season after going 3-5 Sunday, said the Tar Heels started to correct the offensive mistakes they made in the first two games of the series.
“We just wanted to play our game,” Freeman said. “We definitely weren’t playing our game this weekend. We started to get out of our approaches at the plate on the field, but we’re starting to figure things out again.”
Between Friday and Saturday, UNC stranded 20 runners on base in its two losses to the Blue Devils. Fox said his players lost their focus during at-bats because of the score in both of those games, but that they showed improvement Sunday.
“It’s easy to tell guys, ‘Don’t look at the scoreboard, just focus pitch-to-pitch’” Fox said. “It’s easier said than done, but I thought we did a much better job obviously today than the last couple of days.”
Already ahead 5-1, the Tar Heels began the fifth with three consecutive doubles, with extra-base hits from Martorano and junior center fielder Dylan Enwiller driving in runs. UNC’s final run of the game came on a fielder’s choice on a ground ball hit by Busch.
As it turned out, each of those runs mattered, as Duke made things interesting in the ninth.
But considering the way their weekend had been going, the Tar Heels were glad to take a win anyway they could get one, even if late drama was included.
“You’re not trying to not get swept,” Freeman explained, “but you want to play good and start to figure things out. We definitely needed this.”
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