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Friday January 21st

UNC baseball wins first two conference series over Spring Break

<p>North Carolina pitcher&nbsp;Tyler Baum (23) throws a pitch against VCU on Tuesday.</p>
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North Carolina pitcher Tyler Baum (23) throws a pitch against VCU on Tuesday.

The No. 13 North Carolina baseball team was victorious in five of seven games, including four conference wins, during a nine-day span over Spring Break.

The Tar Heels (15-5, 4-2 ACC) won two of three in a home series versus No. 15 Virginia, routed Maryland, and then won two of three games in a road series against Georgia Tech.

Two wins over the Wahoos

The series against Virginia was UNC’s ACC opener, and the Tar Heels didn’t disappoint. They started their weekend with a 9-4 win on March 10, which added to a now eight-year streak of winning their conference opener.

Junior righty J.B. Bukauskas pitched six innings, allowing one run and striking out seven. North Carolina tallied 13 hits in the game, including two offensive outbursts in the third inning (four runs) and the fifth (five runs).

The teams then played a doubleheader on March 11 to finish their series. In the first game, North Carolina dropped its first ACC game of the year with a 2-1 loss in a pitching duel.

Runs were hard to come by as UNC’s first-year righty Luca Dalatri and Virginia’s Adam Haseley allowed just three runs combined.

North Carolina tied the game in the sixth with a home run from Logan Warmoth, but a Virginia RBI single in the top of the ninth gave the Cavaliers the win.

The second game of the day — and last of the series — was another convincing performance by UNC. The Tar Heels had 13 hits for the second time in three games and won 12-2.

Senior Tyler Lynn started the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the second. That 1-0 lead grew to an insurmountable one after eight more UNC runs in the third.

Rivalry renewed

Four pitchers combined for UNC’s first one-hitter since 2014, and all nine North Carolina players had at least one hit in a 9-2 win against former ACC foe Maryland on March 14.

Maryland pulled its starting pitcher after he allowed four runs in 1.2 innings, including a two-run home run to junior Zack Gahagan. The Terrapins cut the Tar Heels’ lead in half with a two-run single in the third.

It was all UNC from that point. North Carolina went on a 5-0 run to secure the win. First-year designated hitter Ashton McGee hit the first home run of his career in the fourth inning.

Nailbiters in Atlanta

Bukauskas had MLB scouts salivating with a career-high 14 strikeouts in UNC’s series-opening 6-5 win against Georgia Tech on March 17. Warmoth’s solo home run in the top of the ninth clinched the win for North Carolina.

The game featured five home runs. North Carolina called on redshirt first-year Josh Hiatt once again to close out, and he responded. His strikeout in the bottom of the ninth stranded two runners on base and was his sixth save of the year.

Georgia Tech’s Kel Johnson ended Game 2 with a two-run home run in the 12th inning. The 4-2 loss was UNC’s second conference defeat of the year.

Both Tar Heel scores were solo home runs — one by first-year infielder Michael Busch in the third and one by Tyler Lynn in the sixth. Dalatri got the start and struck out seven in eight innings. Sophomore righty Rodney Hutchison Jr. gave up the game-winning home run to Johnson.

North Carolina bounced back on March 19 with a furious comeback. In the final game of the series, UNC scored seven unanswered runs to win, 7-4.

The Yellow Jackets led 4-0 after four innings, but McGee hit his second home run of the year to cut the deficit in half. The Tar Heels added four more runs over the next four innings. In 4.1 innings of relief, junior righty Brett Daniels racked up nine strikeouts.

Hiatt got his seventh save of the year in dramatic fashion. After allowing two Yellow Jackets on base, he struck out Chase Murray to complete the comeback.

The Tar Heels will face East Carolina in Greenville on Wednesday. 


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