The No. 1 North Carolina baseball won three vastly different games at Virginia Tech (22-15, 7-11 ACC) this weekend, but a common thread tied them together: the bat of third baseman Colin Moran.
“It was a weird weekend with all the different scores,” Moran said of his team’s 21-8, 9-8 and 3-0 victories. “But it was good to get three W’s.”
In the Friday night series opener, UNC’s staff ace Kent Emanuel had what he said was one of the roughest outings of his career.
He gave up eight runs on 14 hits in the winning effort and relied heavily on the Tar Heel bats. They came through for him as UNC (34-2, 15-2 ACC) went on to win 21-8, despite losing freshman standout Skye Bolt to a foot injury- that was later revealed to be a broken second metatarsal in his right foot.
“(Emanuel) left a couple pitches up but honestly, they just put some good swings on the pitches,” Moran said. “It’s not easy to get runs off Kent. But the wind was definitely blowing out — for both teams — in the first couple games.”
Moran had four RBIs on a three-for-five night at the plate. Centerfielder Chaz Frank also produced four RBIs Friday, and Cody Stubbs added three.
Saturday’s contest against the Hokies was much closer and needed extra innings to decide the winner.
In the top of the 10th inning, Moran scored what would be the game-winning run as he crossed home plate after a wild pitch, his fifth such journey around the diamond that game.
Moran again had four RBIs, this time on a three-for-four performance.
Trent Thornton picked up his eighth win of the season for three innings of relief work.
In the finale on Sunday, the Tar Heels sealed the sweep with a 3-0 win behind a strong showing from Hobbs Johnson.
Johnson was, overall, sharper on Sunday than he had been all year. He pitched a shutout through six innings and only allowed two hits. He walked six batters and struck out four.
“He did pitch well,” coach Mike Fox said. “He got his first win and went into the sixth inning.
“He pitched out of trouble some — got a couple good strikeouts and worked around some walks. We played good defense behind him.”
On Sunday, Moran added another RBI, giving him nine for the weekend.
“I think I saw the ball well,” Moran said. “I think maybe the wind helped a little bit, but I put some barrels on the ball and luckily it fell.”
Fox described the play of his No. 3 hitter as sensational this weekend and said Moran’s play had been critical to the Tar Heels’ success — especially after cleanup batter Bolt’s departure from the lineup.
“We started off kind of crazy Friday,” Fox said. “But we got all three of them. It was a great three game sweep for us.”
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