The No. 8 North Carolina baseball team lost its second consecutive game on Wednesday, falling to St. John's at Boshamer Stadium, 5-2.
Junior right handed pitcher Taylor Sugg took the hill for the Tar Heels and quickly recorded a three-up, three-down first inning, striking out one batter in the process. UNC (2-3) was unable to do any damage in the bottom half of the inning. First baseman Michael Busch recorded a two-out walk, marking the fifth consecutive game he has reached base, but he was stranded one at bat later.
Sugg allowed a two-out walk in the top of the second, but quickly induced the next hitter into a groundout to end the inning. Catcher Cody Roberts got the lone hit in the second inning on a bunt. He then stole second base, but was quickly stranded as the next two batters were retired quietly.
In the third, shortstop Ike Freeman made a swift backhanded stab and threw across his body to prevent an infield single as part of another one-two-three inning for St. John’s (4-0).
Freeman then led off the bottom half of the inning with a single to left field. Two batters later, third baseman Kyle Datres knocked a single into center field, extending his hit streak to five games and moving Freeman to second base. Two straight outs left both runners stranded and the game remained scoreless.
In the fourth, Sugg allowed his first hit on a leadoff single. The next batter singled into left field and advanced to second on the throw while the other runner took third. Sugg then struck out a hitter to keep the runners at their bases. The next batter lined a hard ground ball to short that was misplaced by Freeman, allowing the runner to score the first run of the game from third. A sacrifice fly scored the second run of the game before Sugg was able to settle down and record the final out of the inning.
With men on first and second, pinch hitter Dallas Tessar recorded a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners in the bottom half of the fourth. His former JUCO teammate, center fielder Dylan Enwiller brought home the first run of the day for the Tar Heels on a flare single and his teammate, Roberts, scored the second run on the play after an error by the catcher.
Right handed pitcher Cooper Criswell replaced Sugg in the fifth and allowed a two-out single before retiring the side.
Busch extended his hit streak to five games on a single and then stole second during the next at bat. A two-out walk by McGee put runners on first and second, but both were stranded a batter later to end the fifth.
Criswell allowed a two-out single in the sixth, but promptly retired the next hitter to leave the inning unscathed.
Tessar started the sixth with a single, but was quickly doubled off first after a line drive out. Freeman induced a four-pitch walk, but was stranded by Riley to retire the side.
In the seventh, Criswell allowed his first run of the year on a leadoff, solo home run from designated hitter Mike Antico to give St. John’s a 3-2 lead. The home run led to a pitching change as right hander Trevor Gay took the hill for the Tar Heels. After recording the first out of the inning, Gay allowed a double.
The next batter hit a single into center field and Enwiller committed a throwing error, allowing the runner from second to score on the play. Gay struck out the next batter, but a passed ball allowed the runner on second to advance to third, bringing closer Josh Hiatt into the game for UNC. A single brought home the fifth run of the game for the Red Storm.
The Tar Heels failed to score again in the game and added just two hits over the final three innings in the loss.
Who stood out?
Enwiller recorded the lone RBI for the Tar Heels, his first of the season. Datres extended his hit streak to five games on the year, and picked up two hits. He now has three multi-hit games on the season. Busch also had two hits, making it his fourth multi-hit game. Sugg struck out two batters in four innings of work and both runs he allowed were unearned. First-year Joey Lancellotti pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in relief and struck out two batters.
Why does it matter?
It was the second consecutive loss for the Tar Heels and moved them to under .500 for the season. It is a concerning start for the team and a far cry from last year’s squad that started the season 8-0. With a tough weekend series against East Carolina, UNC will have ample opportunity to move back above .500.
Who do they play next?
UNC travels to Greenville to take on ECU on Friday at 5 p.m to start a three-game series in three different locations.
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