Instead of completing a sweep, the No. 10 North Carolina baseball team dropped the final game of its series against Miami on Sunday at Boshamer Stadium, 6-2. UNC (18-6, 6-3 ACC) went through six pitchers and allowed a season-high six runs to the Hurricanes (11-13, 4-5 ACC).
It felt like Cole Aker’s day was over before it even started.
UNC’s sophomore righty starter left the game after throwing just eight first-inning pitches. He hit the first batter he faced and walked the second. Rodney Hutchison, another sophomore righty, replaced him.
James Davison, the batter that Aker hit, stole third base and then scored after an errant throw by sophomore Cody Roberts. UNC left three runners on base in a scoreless first.
There wasn’t another score until the top of the fourth. Miami’s Gregory Veliz hit an RBI triple — the first of his career — and the Hurricanes had a 2-0 lead.
The Tar Heels missed another opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore right fielder Brandon Riley lead off with a single, and Roberts followed that up with one of his own. But two outs later, both were stranded and UNC was still scoreless.
North Carolina went to its bullpen again in the sixth, bringing in first-year righty Austin Bergner. UNC used two more pitchers to no avail. Five consecutive batters reached base for Miami, which tripled its lead to 6-0 at the end of the inning.
UNC broke through in the seventh. After a Miami pitching change, RBI singles from first-year infielder Michael Busch and junior shortstop Logan Warmoth gave North Carolina life.
Busch stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth, but the Hurricanes grounded him out. UNC began the ninth inning with a single, but its next three batters got nothing.
Who stood out?
Riley continued a strong week with three hits, which tied junior center fielder Brian Miller for the team lead. Hutchison allowed just one run in five innings pitched. Relief pitchers Taylor Sugg and Josh Hiatt were also strong.
UNC left 11 runners on base — a common trend this weekend. That was the biggest knock on its offense. Pitching wise, Bergner allowed four runs.
When was it decided?
The Hurricanes’ four-run outburst in the sixth inning gave them a 6-0 lead. North Carolina had numerous opportunities before and after that stretch, but did nothing with them.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina was looking for its first ACC sweep of the season, but couldn’t finish it off on Sunday. The Tar Heels have now won two of three games in conference series against Virginia, Georgia Tech and Miami.
Today’s loss also broke a four-game winning streak for North Carolina.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina stays at home to take on Coastal Carolina, the defending College World Series champion, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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