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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC baseball takes two of three from Georgia Tech

The Tar Heels (14-9, 5-4 ACC) won the first game 5-3 in dramatic fashion thanks to a two-run homer by Dunbar in the ninth inning Friday night. In the first part of a Saturday twin bill, the Yellow Jackets (16-7, 5-4 ACC) rallied from a 5-0 deficit in Game 2 to win 6-5. UNC then clinched the series with a 5-1 victory.

“That’s been a tough place for us to win in the past,” Coach Mike Fox said. “To lose a heartbreaker in the first one (on Saturday), our kids showed some resiliency and toughness and got a good outing from Benton Moss.”

The series win was UNC’s first at Georgia Tech since 2009. It was also just the second series win in Atlanta in eight tries under Fox, who’s been at UNC for 17 years.

Injuries to the pitching staff have had a domino effect: Starting pitching hasn’t been as strong, requiring the bullpen to pitch more, and if those pitchers falter, there’s no safety net. At Georgia Tech, the starters eased the load for relievers.

“(Pitching coach Scott) Forbes told us our starting pitching needs to go deeper into the game,” Moss said. “We did a good job of pounding the zone and making our pitches when they counted.”

Sophomore Zac Gallen pitched seven innings with just two earned runs Friday. Freshman J.B. Bukauskas went 5.1 innings with three earned runs in the first Saturday game, and Moss went six innings with just one earned run in the finale.

“That was the key to the whole weekend,” Fox said. “We didn’t have a lot of breathing room, so the starting pitching was the key to the series.”

While the pitchers kept Georgia Tech off the scoreboard, UNC found some success hitting.

Dunbar, who’s batting .357 on the season, went 5-for-11 in the three games and led the offensive attack. His game-winning homer Friday went deep into center field, and he also had a solo shot in Game 3.

“That’s the best weekend he’s had as a Tar Heel,” Fox said. “He was even better behind the plate — the number of balls he blocked, the things that don’t show up in the box score.”

Prior to those two home runs, Dunbar hadn’t cleared the fence since April 9, 2014.

“I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself,” Dunbar said. “Just playing the same game since I was five-, six-years-old. Not trying to overcomplicate things and keeping it simple.”

After losing to Davidson but then traveling to Atlanta and getting two wins, Moss is encouraged for the season.

“We’ve beaten ourselves rather than let someone else beat us,” Moss said. “This week is going to be a turning point for our season.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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