However, Hiatt was fatigued by the seventh inning, and Pittsburgh’s hot bats prevailed as he left the mound. They scored two runs on a double and a groundout right after Hiatt was substituted out, and North Carolina could never recover.
Pitt played stout defense in the outfield and their pitching caused trouble for the Tar Heels batters all night after the first inning. That combo ended up being too much to overcome, and the Panthers sent North Carolina home early, in a 5-4 upset, to the lowest seed in the tournament.
Who stood out?
Josh Hiatt displayed noteworthy pitching for the Tar Heels once again. He was called to the mound during the third inning, after Pitt drove home two runs and tied the game up. Two other men were on base with one out. Hiatt came in and struck out the first, then forced a ground out to second, putting an end to what could have been a crucial inning for the Panthers.
Hiatt saw the bases loaded on two separate occasions and each time somehow found a way to escape the inning unscathed whether with a strikeout, a ground out, or most memorably, a double play that garnered a strong fist pump by Hiatt and a roaring applause from the crowd.
He finished the day giving up just three hits, striking out three and walking four to give up two runs in the outing. By holding a grip on the keep, he kept the team in the game even though they couldn't come back in the end.
Brandon Riley stood out on the offensive side of things, reaching base twice out of his four at-bats. For his last at-bat, the last out of the game, he crushed a ball to left-center field to try to tie the game, only to have it land in an excellent jumping catch made by the outfielder on the warning track.
When was it decided?
The game wasn’t totally decided until the very last out. In the ninth inning, Michael Bush reached first on an error, and was pushed to second after a groundout by Kyle Datres. This put Brandon Riley, the hottest North Carolina bat all game, up to bat with two outs and the tying run on second.
He smacked a ball deep but it wasn’t quite long enough to get over the wall for a walk-off. The hopeful Tar Heel fans exhaled an audible sigh of disappointment when they saw the outfielder’s mitt close on the ball.
Why does it matter?
This game would have guaranteed the Tar Heels a spot in the ACC semifinals. Instead, North Carolina cannot advance out of the group pool into the next round. It will play its final game of the tournament on Friday, a potential confidence booster before the NCAA tournament.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will take on Georgia Tech on Friday, May 25th at 3 p.m. again at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
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