The No. 19 North Carolina baseball team (27-10, 9-6 ACC) went into South Bend, Ind., and took two out of three from Notre Dame (13-21, 8-10 ACC) in a weekend series.
Game One: UNC 10, Notre Dame 1
The Tar Heels got off to a hot start in the first game, putting four runs on the board in the top of the first inning. To start the game, senior Dylan Enwiller walked, followed by a double from junior Michael Bush, giving UNC a 1-0 lead early. First-year Aaron Sabato then crushed a two-run homer to left center. But UNC was not finished this inning until first-year Danny Serretti singled and scored on a base hit by Brandon Martorano, putting the Tar Heels up 4-0.
In the bottom of the first, the Irish answered with a home run of their own. But Notre Dame was not heard from again this game.
The Tar Heels began the top of the second with a double to right center from Sabato which drove in a run from Busch. UNC took advantage of a Notre Dame error, which extended its half of the inning. The Tar Heel bats made the Irish pay for their mistake with a single by Martorano and a two-run homer from junior Dylan Harris. At the end of the second inning, UNC was up 8-1 on the Irish.
The third inning was quiet on both sides besides a single from Enwiller, but in the top of the fourth, Serretti smashed a home run to left center. Junior Ike Freeman tripled to right field and scored on a single from redshirt junior Dallas Tessar.
That was the end of the action for day one and the final score was 10-1 for UNC. But the Tar Heels had a big day ahead.
Game Two: UNC 13, Notre Dame 6
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, UNC and Notre Dame were back at Frank Eck Stadium for the first game of a doubleheader.
The action started right in the top of the first. UNC used a pair of two-run homers from Busch and Martorano with singles from Enwiller and Freeman to gain a 4-0 advantage.
In the top of the second, UNC added yet another two-run shot from Enwiller, giving the Tar Heels a 6-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, the Irish scored four runs on six hits, narrowing the gap to 6-4.
UNC continued to use the long ball to do damage on the field. Freeman homered in the top of the fourth, driving in Serretti, who reached on an error. In the top of the fifth, McGee smashed a home run to right field. Notre Dame drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth, making the score 9-5 for the Tar Heels.
The scoring went back and forth through the top of the sixth inning. Serretti doubled to centerfield and scored on a double from Freeman. Martorano singled to third base and Freeman scored on a throwing error.
With a score of 11-5 for UNC, both team’s bats went quiet and remained so until the top of the ninth. First-year Caleb Roberts singled to center field. Enwiller then stepped up and hit his second two-run homer of the game. The Irish scored one final run in the bottom of the ninth, but the final score was 13-6 for the Tar Heels, and they took the series from Notre Dame.
Game Three: Notre Dame 4, UNC 3
In the third and final game this weekend, UNC fell to Notre Dame after a decisive run in the bottom of the ninth, splitting its doubleheader. In contrast to the first games which were all about the long ball, the third matchup was a close, low-scoring struggle.
Neither team was able to score until the fourth inning. UNC began the scoring when Busch doubled and advanced to third on a ground out. He scored on a single from Serretti. But the Irish answered quickly with a run in the bottom of the fourth, tying it up 1-1.
In the top of the sixth, Busch homered to right field, bringing the score to 2-1 for the Tar Heels. This advantage was short-lived, however, as Notre Dame scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and took the lead at 3-2.
The eighth was quiet. In the top of the ninth, UNC tied it up again with a run helped by singles from Freeman and Roberts. But in the bottom of the inning, Notre Dame put one more run on the board, enough to take one game from the Tar Heels, winning 4-3.
Who stood out?
The North Carolina baseball team shined as a whole this weekend, specifically the team’s powerful hitting. The Tar Heels had a combined 10 home runs over the three games, and Notre Dame had only two. Busch and Enwiller both hit two homers in the three games.
Busch, who is second in the ACC for runs scored, and Sabato both brought their home run totals this season up to nine, tied for team lead.
“I think we’ve kind of started to click lately, just finding guys in the right places and the right spots in the lineup,” Busch said.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels seem to have found their footing after a series loss to Georgia Tech. With recent wins over UNC-Greensboro and Davidson, and now a series win over Notre Dame, they find themselves in a good position going into a game against South Carolina and their next ACC series this weekend against Boston College.
Busch said that in light of these recent wins, the team is trying to enjoy this time and not overthink things.
“Baseball is a long season and a mental grind,” he said.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels head to a neutral site in Charlotte to battle South Carolina at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. UNC returns home on Friday for its next ACC series against Boston College.
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