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The Daily Tar Heel

Baseball: Heels take series in close-call _¶ nale

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North Carolina reliever Brian Moran came in for starter Matt Harvey in the third inning of Sunday?s matchup with UVa. and finished with a career-high six and one-third inning outing" with eight strikeouts on no walks.

With the sun shining for the first time all weekend more than 1600 spectators came out to see No. 5 UNC take on No. 21 Virginia in its series finale Sunday.

And those who stuck around to the end saw quite a unique ending.

With the score tied at 5-5 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning UNC shortstop Ryan Graepel stepped to the plate after UVa. intentionally walked catcher Mark Fleury who was three-quarters of the way to a cycle.

After taking a strike and a ball from UVa. reliever Matt Packer Graepel took one last pitch — on the left leg" granting the hit-by-pitch walk-off RBI to give the Tar Heels a 6-5 victory and a 2-1 series win.

""We tell our guys just to stay in there and don't move" coach Mike Fox said. For a minute I think everyone just kind of stopped and was like ‘What just happened? Oh" the game's over.'""

The win puts UNC half a game ahead of UVa. and half a game behind second-place Miami in the Coastal Division.

After last week's series loss to Duke"" Fox emphasized the importance of a win this weekend.

""You don't want to try to overstate too many games this early"" he said. But you can't afford to drop two home series in this league.""

Starting pitcher Matt Harvey gave up two early runs and constantly found himself in trouble through two-plus innings" leaving the Tar Heels trailing 2-1.

After Harvey loaded the bases to open the third frame" Fox pulled the sophomore in favor of junior reliever Brian Moran.

""(Entering in that situation) was OK. It was a little nerve-racking"" Moran said. I just came in and tried to make some pitches. And it worked out.""

Moran pitched a career-high six and one-third innings while striking out eight batters with no walks.

""That's the first time I've thrown that many innings here" but I've started in the summer. So I'm a little bit used to it" said Moran, who holds an unheard-of 21-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio this season.

Eventually, the long outing got to Moran in the form of Virginia's Dan Grovatt, who rocketed Moran's last pitch of the game over the right-center field wall in the ninth inning.

I still had the adrenaline going (in the ninth) … but I just left the ball over to Grovatt"" he said.

Friday's series opener also came down to late-inning heroics.

With UNC trailing 3-2 in the eighth, center fielder Mike Cavasinni made the Cavaliers pay for playing their outfield in.

The redshirt junior sent a soaring shot over the head of UVa. left fielder John Barr, plating Graepel and Fleury from first and second.

He turned to one of the coaches and said"" ‘I'm tired of being a wimp in the batter's box. I'm going to go up there and swing this time.'"" Fox said. ""That's about the furthest ball I've seen him hit"" especially to left field.""

Cavisinni's two-run triple was only the second extra-base hit for the Tar Heels" who relied heavily on small ball to keep pace with the Cavaliers' two home runs and three doubles.

Saturday UNC again saw the Cavaliers go yard twice. The Tar Heels also sent two balls over the wall but with the bases empty for both dingers the team managed just two runs and fell" 5-2.

""We gave up some home runs in this series"" Fox said. (Pitchers) are just trying to be aggressive. … We've just got to keep attacking.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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