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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC baseball comeback falls short in ninth inning

Left fielder Brian Miller (34) slides into second base where he is tagged out.
Left fielder Brian Miller (34) slides into second base where he is tagged out.

The Tar Heels couldn’t pull out a win against the Davidson Wildcats at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, losing 12-11. UNC dug itself in too deep of a hole, allowing seven runs in the first three innings, five coming in the third.

“Davidson, credit to them, they came out swinging the bat,” said freshman leadoff man Brian Miller. “They just hit the ball everywhere, all over the field so that’s credit to them.”

The Tar Heels struggled throughout the afternoon and were down 12-5 at the start of the ninth inning before making a 6-0 run. But their streak came to a quick end.

Freshman shortstop Logan Warmoth, who hit his first career home run in the fourth inning, stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second in the bottom half of the inning. But Davidson’s Ty Middlebrooks made an impressive game-ending catch while running into the left field wall and stealing a potential game-winning hit.

“It’s a crazy game. I’ve seen some crazy things happen on the field and that would’ve been something if that ball would have gone out or gone off the wall, and we’d a won right there,” Coach Mike Fox said. “Probably wouldn’t have deserved to, but I give our kids credit for battling.”

UNC made a lot of mistakes early on and were down 7-0 by the third inning. The Tar Heels are still trying to get into the swing of things due to injuries within the pitching staff, making them rely on players from the bullpen to step up.

“You can go play the what-if game, the bottom line is we’re just not very good out of the bullpen right now and our veterans just aren’t getting it done,” Fox said.

But three freshmen shone in the absence of a few UNC regulars. Warmoth, Miller and freshman first baseman Zack Gahagan combined for nine hits and eight RBIs against the Wildcats.

Two key North Carolina veterans, junior outfielders Skye Bolt and Landon Lassiter, did not play Tuesday due to missing an academic commitment.

“We have tutors here for a reason and we pay for those, the athletic department pays for those tutors,” Fox said. “And when you’re required to go to them, you’re required to go.

“And if you don’t, you’re shortchanging yourself, somebody else and you’re being selfish. And I don’t tolerate that here. That’s why they didn’t play today and they weren’t about to play.”

Yet even in their absence, UNC put themselves in a position to win late in the game. But, there were too many mistakes early, and the comeback came too late.

“If you go back and look at it, the game always comes down to walks, errors and base running mistakes,” Fox said. “Those things kill you, and then you’re asking for a miracle at the end of the game to win.”

The Tar Heels asked for a miracle, but instead were left with heartache.

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