One day after scoring nine runs in its series-opening win, No. 15 North Carolina’s bats went cold in the first of two games against No. 11 Virginia Saturday, as the Tar Heels lost 2-1 at Boshamer Stadium after the Cavaliers took the lead in the top of the ninth inning.
UNC’s inability to get anything going on offense meant that a quality start by first-year pitcher Luca Dalatri was spoiled.
Dalatri, who was making his fourth start for UNC (11-4, 1-1), was great for the Tar Heels, recording five strikeouts over 8.1 innings pitched.
But the young pitcher’s mistakes – which were few and far between – occurred at both the beginning and end of his outing.
With the game tied, Dalatri began the ninth inning by issuing a walk to Virginia (13-2, 1-1) catcher Robbie Coman, who reached second base after a sacrifice bunt. At that point, Dalatri was replaced by first-year relief pitcher Josh Hiatt, who gave up an RBI-single to sophomore first baseman Nate Eikhoff that put the visitors ahead. The run was charged to Dalatri.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, there appeared to be hope for the Tar Heels following a one-out double by sophomore third baseman Kyle Datres, but UNC was unable to send him home.
In the first inning, Dalatri was taken advantage of by his counterpart when Virginia junior pitcher Adam Haseley took the first pitch he saw Dalatri and powered it over the left field fence for his sixth home run of the season, giving the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead.
After the early mistake, Dalatri was impressive for the Tar Heels. Able to locate his pitches well and switch speeds effectively, he didn’t allow a single extra-base hit and held Virginia hitters to 0-5 with runners in scoring position.
Dalatri’s solid outing kept UNC in the game, making up for his hitters’ lack of success at the plate.
After squandering run-scoring opportunities in the third and fifth innings, junior shortstop Logan Warmoth, the Tar Heels’ most prolific hitter, tied the game with a line drive home run down the left field line, his third of the year.
Unfortunately for head coach Mike Fox’s team, that was the only time UNC put a run on the board.
Who stood out?
Despite taking the loss, Dalatri made a statement with his performance. He made a name for himself two weeks ago when he struck out 15 against Radford, but his ability to hold his own against a team as good as Virginia says a lot about his ability to make an impact in just his first year at the college level.
Haseley’s performance for Virginia – he gave up only one run in eight innings on the mound, while going 3-4 at the plate – also served as a reminder that he’s one of the most versatile players in the ACC.
Warmoth success at the plate also continued. After hitting a home run and drawing a walk, he’s reached base in 30 consecutive games.
When was it decided?
Always in the game from start to finish, UNC had a chance up until the final out was recorded when senior pinch-hitter Tyler Lynn grounded out to second base.
Why does it matter?
With the loss, the Tar Heels are now in need of a victory to avoid losing back to back weekend series after dropping two of three games to Long Beach State from March 3-5.
Where do they play next?
UNC ends the weekend with the series finale against Virginia, which is set to take place at 3:26 p.m. Saturday at Boshamer Stadium.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.