All they needed was one inning.
The No. 13 North Carolina baseball team scored five of their eight runs in the first inning during the Tar Heels' 8-1 win over High Point on a chilly Tuesday night in Boshamer Stadium.
The victory was much needed after UNC (21-7) suffered three consecutive losses over the weekend to No. 2 Miami.
North Carolina used a patient approach at the plate all evening, drawing 12 walks — including three consecutive walks in the first inning to score two Tar Heels.
After the first inning, UNC’s offense cooled down. But the pitching heated up.
Starter Hunter Williams, a powerful lefty from Mosley, Va., pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on two hits. The sophomore racked up seven strikeouts in his 96 pitches, as he consistently overpowered the Panthers (20-9) with his fastball.
Once Williams exited, the combination of Spencer Trayner, Taylor Sugg and Cole Aker struck out seven batters and did not allow a run through the remaining 4 1/3 innings. Coach Mike Fox singled out Sugg, a first-year from Greensboro, as a standout performer in his two perfect innings.
“I thought this was a huge challenge for us. Coming off a loss, last night basketball — I mean, that’s a bummer for everyone. We’re all just heartbroken. Very little atmosphere here. It's cold. We had a lot of things working against us.” — Fox on the team's mentality entering Tuesday's game.
Fox noted that had UNC not scored five runs in the first inning, Williams would not have stayed in the game for as long as he did. But with a comfortable lead behind him, the sophomore had one of his better outings of the season.
Three numbers that matter
13: The Tar Heels left 13 runners on base, as hitters consistently failed to bring their teammates home after the first-inning explosion.
425: On Tuesday, 425 fans braved the elements and residual sadness from Monday's NCAA National Championship to watch UNC take on a nonconference opponent.
0: The Tar Heel relievers gave up zero walks to High Point, something that Fox hopes continues against tougher competition.
UNC hosts UNC-Asheville at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Boshamer Stadium.
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