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The Daily Tar Heel

Baseball Sweep Sends State Packing

The UNC baseball team beat N.C. State three times this weekend, its first sweep of the Wolfpack since 1990.

Way off in the distance behind Boshamer Stadium's left field wall, way up on Ehringhaus' sixth floor balcony, the unknown man waved a broom for all of 30 seconds, then retreated inside.

It wasn't the most picturesque of sweeps, but the North Carolina baseball team will take it.

Sunday's 12-4 rout of N.C. State, combined with victories Friday and Saturday, gave the No. 21 Tar Heels their first sweep of the Wolfpack since 1990. But despite outscoring State 34-11 in the three games, the Tar Heels found themselves in an early hole in two of them.

UNC (28-14, 13-5 in the ACC) was down in Game Three after starter Daniel Moore gave up three runs in the first. He was given the hook in the second inning, one batter after walking Joe Gaetti.

"I want guys to have control, and walking people is something that's cost us a few games," said UNC coach Mike Fox.

Fox tried relievers Scott Manshack and Whitley Benson, who lasted a combined three innings. Finally, he found the answer in Michael Gross.

"I just tried to keep the ball in the strike zone pretty well - keep it down" said Gross (4-3), who allowed just one hit in 3.2 innings.

Gross pointed to another key stat.

"I think we had 11 unanswered runs."

After the first inning, UNC erased the deficit with aggressive baserunning. With constant pickoff attempts, N.C. State (25-17, 4-11) put a lockdown on base stealing, limiting the conference-leading Tar Heels to just one. But UNC used its speed in other ways - legging out infield hits, taking extra bases and disrupting State pitchers.

"Even though we didn't steal a lot of bases this series, I felt like the threat of us running put some pressure on them and made their pitchers hold us and change their rhythm a little bit," Fox said.

Said Adam Greenberg, who was 4-for-4 on the day with UNC's only stolen base: "They made a conscious effort to keep us close. But that left holes open for us and we swung the bat very well."

Saturday's 12-5 win began a lot like Sunday's. Starter Garry Bakker lasted just three innings before he was relieved by Carter Harrell, who steered UNC to the victory. The runs occurred in a different fashion, though.

The Tar Heels hit eight home runs to fuel the comeback, one shy of the team's single-game record. Chris Maples hit three, tying UNC's individual mark.

On Friday, Scott Autrey went seven innings to get the win. It was by far the longest outing in a series that saw Fox utilize nine pitchers.

"The world could open up tomorrow and swallow us all," Fox said. "I'm not worried about next week. I'm not worried about next month. I just play 'em one at a time."

The sweep was UNC's third in the ACC this season, its most since 1990, the last time the Tar Heels won the league.

"We've done it three times at home which is very unusual to do," Fox said. "We could climb right up there and, who knows, possibly win the regular season."

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