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The Daily Tar Heel

Baseball: Heels' bats propel huge win against Winthrop

nate striz
Sophomore reliever Nate Striz pitched four scoreless innings for the Tar Heels on Wednesday" allowing one hit and one walk on 15 batters faced.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday sophomore Brett Thomas entered the game as a pinch hitter.

After working the count to 3-1 Thomas connected on a pitch and sent his first career home run screaming beyond the right field wall.

With that No. 4 North Carolina had 18 runs the most the team had scored all season. UNC went on to defeat Winthrop 20-4" topping the best offensive output since March 2007.

""It's a little unexpected" but it's nice for us to respond back coach Mike Fox said. And we kind of had the philosophy to want to win each inning" and I think we've been focusing on the whole and the result too much to start.""

The Tar Heels (28-10) have proven they can light up the scoreboard"" having scored at least seven runs in five of their past seven games before tonight. But they also allowed at least seven runs in five of those seven games.

It looked as though the floodgates might open again Wednesday when sophomore starter Bryant Gaines gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning.

""He had one of those starts where it's like you're just kind of laying it in there to start" and I think he thought he had a little better velocity than he did" Fox said.

He just didn't have it tonight. It happens.""

But sophomore reliever Nate Striz entered the game at the beginning of the second inning and twirled four scoreless innings.

 ""My arm wasn't feeling that great" but I was able to work through it" Striz said of his career-high four frames.

Striz powered his way past the Winthrop hitters, allowing just one hit and one walk against the 15 batters he faced.

After the start it was really important we get a guy in there who could give us the three or four innings and shut 'em down"" Fox said.

Nate's gotten better and better every time he's gone out this year.""

Striz went to his fastball again and again"" and no Eagle could catch up with it.

""He did a great job"" sophomore left fielder Ben Bunting said.

He's done a lot of innings for us lately. He's really picked up a lot of slack for us.""

But Striz didn't need to pick up much slack Wednesday. The Tar Heel bats made it easy for the pitching staff by putting 20 runs on the board.

""I think it's just been a long time coming for us"" Bunting said.

We've been slowly getting over that little drought we were in.""

Bunting led the way for the UNC offense with three hits" three runs and three RBIs from the leadoff spot.

Two of those three hits were triples doubling Bunting's season total. He made it to third base uncontested the first time" but the second time he barely beat the throw.

""I just saw the outfield hadn't really gotten rid of it yet when I hit second" so I thought I'd try to make it to third" Bunting said.

Thirteen Tar Heels finished with at least one hit, and 11 had at least one RBI.

We had the kind of night tonight that High Point had against us last night" where it seemed like everything we hit found a hole" Fox said, referencing Tuesday's 11-9 loss to High Point.

Striz was pleased with his teammates' support.

It was the best effort from them yet"" he said. It was amazing. You can just throw it down the middle and let them hit it when your offense is hitting like that.""

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