After missing nearly three months due to elbow numbness, North Carolina sophomore pitcher Gianluca Dalatri returned to the mound on Saturday, pitching four shutout innings in the Tar Heels' 6-1 victory over Virginia Tech.
Dalatri got off to a strong start by mowing through the Hokies’ top of the order on only eight pitches, all for strikes, including two three-pitch strikeouts.
“It felt pretty good,” Dalatri said. “I didn’t realize they were all strikes until afterwards. I was just trying to go out there, pound the zone, and make them beat me at my best stuff. That’s something that I don’t really think I can truly say that I had all year, the two outings that I threw.”
Dalatri pitched three more solid innings, allowing only two hits and one walk while holding Virginia Tech scoreless. After the fourth inning, sophomore Tyler Baum relieved Dalatri with UNC holding a 3-0 lead.
“I had two, three innings left in me today, but coach Fox and all the other coaches, especially coach Woodard, they pride themselves on keeping us healthy,” Dalatri said. “Not to discredit Virginia Tech in any way, but this game didn’t mean as much to us as the ACC tournament and all the rest of them that are coming up.”
Josh Hiatt followed Baum, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing only one baserunner. Senior Brett Daniels entered in the ninth inning, striking out the side while walking one batter.
Behind stellar pitching, the North Carolina batters got hot — tallying six runs on seven hits. UNC took an early 3-0 lead in the third inning, adding on to its one run lead, when it loaded the bases. Brandon Riley walked home a run, and Ike Freeman brought home Michael Busch on a sacrifice fly.
With a three run lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, sophomore Ashton McGee sunk Virginia Tech’s chances with a two-run single through the left side — the final scores of the game.
Daniels sealed the victory in the ninth, securing the top seed in the ACC tournament for UNC.