In a game where No. 4 North Carolina produced 16 hits, it was a fortuitous bounce that proved to be the key spark that the Tar Heels needed to jumpstart their offense.
When third baseman Colin Moran stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third inning, the Tar Heels were in trouble. Princeton had just jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the top of the third and just narrowly missed out on a big inning when Jonathan York struck out with the bases loaded.
The momentum was on the Tigers’ side and the UNC offense was sputtering after managing only one hit in the first two innings.
After Moran fell behind in the count 0-1, he hit a slow bouncer to the shortstop that looked like a routine ground ball. But right before the shortstop reached the ball, it took a nasty hop off the sprinkler head between second and third base and spun away untouched into the outfield.
“Obviously it was complete luck,” Moran said.
But Moran was credited with a single and the Tar Heels were in business. Up next was senior Jacob Stallings, who ripped a double to left field.
With runners on second and third, freshman Mike Zolk responded with a single to left to even the score at 2-2. But the Tar Heels were just getting started.
Freshman Grayson Atwood, a little-used backup who was only in the game because of an injury to Cody Stubbs, bounced a single past the shortstop to give the Tar Heels the lead.
Michael Russell made it five straight hits with a single and Tom Zengel followed Russell with a single up the middle to give the Tar Heels a three-run lead.