Gardner-Webb (2-3) scored its lone run in the top of the third when Mason Fox crushed a solo home run over the left-field wall.
UNC was able to score two runs on Mitchell’s replacement, Cooper Devine, in the bottom of the fourth on a single by Miller and a sacrifice fly from Logan Warmoth. Gahagan added another insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on a solo home run to left field.
The Tar Heels scored their final three runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth. First-year Ike Freeman scored fellow first-year Austin McGee on a sacrifice fly to right field before Warmoth rocketed the ball to center to collect a triple and send another run in.
Busch then reached on a dropped fly ball by Gardner-Webb's center fielder to score Warmoth, giving North Carolina its final run of the day.
Who stood out?
Despite getting off to a rocky start, sophomore starting pitcher Cole Aker recovered to give UNC six innings of solid work. He gave up just one run and three hits while striking out five in his first start of the season.
Additionally, Warmoth stretched his streak of reaching base to 19 games by virtue of a walk in the first inning.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels’ first inning barrage was just too much for the Runnin' Bulldogs to overcome. Gardner-Webb was able to pull one back in the third inning, but the team couldn’t string together enough hits throughout the course of the game, as North Carolina’s lead was never in doubt after the first.
Why does it matter?
Aker’s victory gave each of UNC’s starting pitchers a win to begin the season. Starting pitching was a problem at time for the Tar Heels last season, especially in conference play. Even though it's still early in the season, this kind of performance from the starters is encouraging to see.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina will begin a three-game series against Radford starting at 3 p.m. on Friday at Boshamer Stadium.