The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Towson Strikes Early, Forces Split With UNC

First, the Tar Heels needed them to spread sand on the field after rain caused a 74-minute delay in the first game of their double header against Towson.

Then they needed the shovels to help dig out of early deficits in both games. The Tigers lead 4-1 in the opener before the rain delay and grabbed a 4-0 advantage in the nightcap.

UNC only managed to claw its way back in the first game as it split the twin bill, winning 7-6 in 10 innings and falling 4-0 in the second game.

"It's a tough uphill climb," UNC coach Mike Fox said. "It's just hard to play when you're behind early in the game."

Trailing 6-2 in the game one, the Tar Heels (16-8) mounted a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh by collecting five consecutive hits and scoring three times before the Tigers (10-4) recorded an out.

Sean Farrell doubled and then Chris Maples, Chad Prosser, Ron Braun and Jason Howell each singled before Adam Greenberg drove in UNC's final run of the inning on a fielder's choice to tie the game at 6-6.

Then in the 10th, Ryan Blake drove a two-out pitch deep to center field that Ryan Avila couldn't run down. It hit his glove and fell to the ground as Jeremy Cleveland crossed the plate with the winning run.

"I was just hoping he wasn't going to catch it," said Blake, who went 3-for-8 with two RBI on the day. "I saw (Avila) drifting on it. I was praying he wouldn't catch it."

The Tar Heels were able to rally back largely because of Whitley Benson's work in relief.

The right-hander came on in the fifth facing a 6-1 Towson lead and finished the game with 4 1/3 innings of hitless ball. He fanned six -- four straight at one point -- as he improved to 3-0 on the year.

"Whitley was the key to the game coming in and shutting them down for four innings," Fox said.

Tigers starter Matt Nein was just as sharp as Benson in game two. He didn't allow a hit through his first four innings of work.

The Towson lefthander threw a complete game, which was shortened to seven innings because of the earlier rain delay.

And Nein did it using only a fastball and changeup. He threw just one curveball.

"He just kind of lulled you to sleep, working away, away, away," Blake said.

Nein's shutout was the first thrown against the Tar Heels since May 15, 1998, when Wake Forest defeated UNC 3-0 in the ACC tournament.

"I don't know what to say right now," Nein said. "It feels real good. You can't put it into words how I feel."

North Carolina travels to Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend for a three-game set with No. 17 Florida State.

The Sports Editor can be reached at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.