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Friday November 26th

North Carolina was unable to overcome Ga Tech’s strong offense

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At the start of No. 6 North Carolina’s doubleheader against Georgia Tech on Saturday, coach Mike Fox couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.

After an 11-4 drop to the Yellow Jackets (24-17, 9-12 ACC) on Friday night, the Tar Heels (29-12, 13-8) began their doubleheader with eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the first inning alone — the highest-scoring inning UNC has seen in league play all season.

“We almost didn’t know how to react,” Fox said. “It’s eight to nothing, and we’re like, ‘We went a whole weekend series and didn’t score eight. We’ve gone a whole week and not scored eight runs.’
“It sort of snowballed them a little bit and that helped us to relax a little, but when you know you have 17 innings to go, you’ve obviously got to keep playing.”

And try as they did, the Tar Heels couldn’t keep that momentum going. Although UNC took game two with a 12-6 win, a 4-2 drop in the series finale later that day gave Georgia Tech the series victory.

The 2-1 weekend loss was just the second ACC series drop the Tar Heels have faced this season after being swept by Miami earlier this month.

On the mound, UNC shifted freshman Benton Moss to game two’s starting pitcher, filling in sophomore Hobbs Johnson in the starting role for game three.

Johnson, a reliever that spent just 3.2 innings on the mound for North Carolina his freshman season, worked for 6.1 innings in his first starting spot on a weekend. In doing so, he also made a strong case for becoming a permanent fixture in that role.

“I do long relief usually out of the bullpen, so it wasn’t much different from that,” Johnson said. “I just tried to treat it as if I was coming out of the bullpen — same mindset and everything — just attacking hitters.”

Johnson attacked the Yellow Jackets enough to give up just three singles before the Yellow Jackets’ Jake Davies took advantage of his tiring arm in the seventh inning.

After freshman Adam Griffin gave UNC a 2-0 lead from two RBI, one each in the second and fourth innings, Davies smacked a two-run bomb over the right field fence to tie the game. The home run marked the first extra-base hit Johnson had given up in 33.2 innings at UNC.

“We really thought we had (that) game in control, and then Davies hits that ball out and it’s a tie game,” catcher Jacob Stallings said. “It kind of took us aback a little bit, and we couldn’t really respond.”

The Yellow Jackets followed one inning later by tacking on another two runs with two outs in the next inning. This time it was closer Michael Morin who earned the loss.

Only shortstop Tommy Coyle would get on base for the Tar Heels following Georgia Tech’s game-changer. Coyle drew a walk in the bottom of the eighth inning and stole the first base of the series shortly after but was soon stranded on base.

“We didn’t do enough, and Georgia Tech is such a good offensive team that if you make mistakes against them, they’re going to hurt you,” Fox said.

“They scored 13 runs in this series from the seventh inning on, and that’s the sign of a good team. That’s the sign of a team that gets it done at the end. They just flat out beat us in the second game.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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