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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels take Spartans in rocky mid-week tilt

GREENSBORO — The No. 4 North Carolina baseball team took advantage of several UNC-Greensboro mishaps to ground out a sloppy, 5-1 victory Tuesday night against the Spartans in Greensboro.

The Tar Heels were out-hit eight to five by the Spartans and committed three out of the game’s five errors. UNC was also held to one of 14 with runners on base, including just one of nine with runners in scoring position.

But the Tar Heels got another strong outing from freshman pitcher Benton Moss. Moss lasted 5.2 innings and finished with four hits and five strikeouts.

“We expected Benton to be a big part of our pitching staff and he has been,” coach Mike Fox said.

But because of the Tar Heels’ inability to produce consistent hits, they were forced to rely on unorthodox ways to score the majority of their runs.

North Carolina took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when junior Tommy Coyle scored off of a throwing error by Spartans shortstop TJ Spina. The Tar Heels added to their lead in the third when Coyle registered an RBI ground out after a leadoff triple by junior Chaz Frank.

“You just want to get out and score early and often, especially on the road, and we have been fortunate to do that the last couple of games,” Coyle said.

UNC increased its lead in the fifth when UNC-G reliever Dominique Vattuone self-destructed, walking four straight Tar Heels after striking out the side looking in the previous inning. But when sophomore Parks Jordan was thrown out trying to steal second, UNC had to rely on a balk by UNC-G reliever Zach Furl to drive in a run.

It was not until the seventh inning that the Tar Heels delivered another RBI hit. Not surprisingly, the RBI belonged to sophomore Colin Moran, North Carolina’s RBI leader on the year, who smoked a double down the right-field line off Spartan reliever Jonathan Jones to score Coyle.

“Obviously Colin is hitting in the 3-hole for a reason,” Fox said. “We hadn’t done a whole lot offensively until then so it was nice to see us get a base hit with a guy in scoring position.”

Another mistake by UNC-G, a wild pitch by reliever Brennen James, gave the Tar Heels a commanding 5-0 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.

But the Spartans rallied in the bottom of the seventh when Lloyd Enzor smacked a double to left field to make the score 5-1. But with the bases loaded and UNC-G threatening to further cut into the lead, Tar Heel relief pitcher Chris McCue delivered a strikeout to dash the Spartan’s hopes of a rally.

“That was huge for us,” Fox said. “That was probably the biggest pitch of the game.”

Throughout the night, the Tar Heels showed great patience at the plate, finishing with seven walks compared to just one for the Spartans. The Tar Heels’ strategy of taking as many pitches as possible paid off on a night when the offense was not producing.

“Hitting is hot and cold and you can’t always rely on it so you’ve got to be able to have patient at-bats and just take what you can get,” Coyle said.

Next up, the Tar Heels will play at home today against Gardner-Webb.

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