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Monday January 24th

Kyle Datres pays attention to pitchers in UNC baseball's 7-6 win over Coastal Carolina

<p>North Carolina third baseman Kyle Datres (3) celebrates after hitting a home run&nbsp;against Coastal Carolina on March 28.</p>
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North Carolina third baseman Kyle Datres (3) celebrates after hitting a home run against Coastal Carolina on March 28.

A warm Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium had drawn 1,925. And over 100 dogs were sitting in the left-field bleachers — they had made the trip for the Bark at The Bosh event. A nice crowd, to say the least, for North Carolina’s tight 7-6 win.

On the field, things were even better. No. 8 UNC held a 4-2 lead against defending champion Coastal Carolina. The bases were loaded.

It was all there for Datres. But a question remained. Would the sophomore third baseman take it?

It helped that he had one thing already going for him — he had been watching sophomore lefty Austin Kitchen.

“Watching the hitters before me, I saw that once he got to two strikes, he tried to go with a backdoor curveball to Logan (Warmoth),” Datres said.

Four massive light towers beamed down their artificial glow on him as he stepped up to the plate. Ball. Strike. Strike. Ball.

It was backdoor curveball time.

“He tried doing the same thing for me,” Datres said. “But I was ready for it.”

“That’s him paying attention,” head coach Mike Fox said.

It wasn’t a homer like the one Datres had already hit in the bottom of the fourth. Now, in the bottom of the seventh, a single to right field would do.

As the ball split the area between first and second base and starting rolling, the Tar Heels took off. Datres advanced to first. Brandon Martorano made his way to second. And Brian Miller and Cody Roberts came home.

A 6-2 lead was something to cheer about. So that’s what the dugout — complete with team dog Remington — did.

“The dugout’s amazing,” said junior pitcher Brett Daniels. “It stays loud in there.”

Datres’ hit capped off a four-run outburst that gave UNC a cushion until the top of the ninth.

Redshirt first-year righty Josh Hiatt subbed in for Daniels in the top of the eighth — a little earlier than usual. He allowed one run, but he looked ready to add a comfortable 10th career save.

Coastal Carolina almost stopped that from happening. Left fielder Cory Wood drilled a home run to right center, and three Chanticleers scored. Datres’ heroics would possibly go to waste.

Hiatt forced a groundout two at-bats later. An anxious crowd let out a breath it wasn’t expecting to hold in. Win No. 19 was official, but it didn’t come easy.

After Coastal Carolina beat North Carolina in Boshamer Stadium last year, 6-3, there was now some retribution.

“It didn’t sit well with us,” Datres said. “We wanted to make a point this year to go out and play well and get a W.”

He can largely credit that win to himself.

@chapelfowler

sports@dailytarheel.com



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