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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC baseball holds off Auburn 2-0, ties up best-of-three Super Regional

UNC baseball junior and 1B, Michael Busch (15), swings and misses the ball during the first game of the super regionals versus Auburn on Saturday June 8, 2019. Auburn beat UNC 11-7.

Thanks to a strong first inning and a pair of stellar performances on the mound, the North Carolina baseball team (46-18, 17-13 ACC) edged Auburn (37-26, 14-16 SEC) 2-0 on Sunday, tying the best-of-three Chapel Hill Super Regional of the NCAA tournament.

What happened?

After scoring three times in the opening frame on Saturday, the Tar Heels got off to another strong start, earning two runs in the first inning thanks to junior Ike Freeman’s RBI single that plated junior Michael Busch and first-year Aaron Sabato. 

Busch hit a leadoff single and Sabato drew a walk, allowing UNC to punch in its only scores of the day.

Though subsequent pop-ups from Dylan Harris and Dylan Enwiller stranded three Tar Heels on base, North Carolina was able to grab a 2-0 lead, one which proved enough on Sunday.

It looked like the Tigers were going to answer with some runs of their own in the first inning, but Austin Bergner was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam to keep Auburn at bay. Bergner settled down considerably after that, and UNC kept the good times rolling on the mound with redshirt first-year Austin Love coming on during the fifth inning.

Despite stranding eight runners in the first four innings alone, North Carolina got enough out of its bats in the first inning, and from the combination of Bergner and Love, to grab the win and even the series.

Who stood out?

After going for seven innings against Tennessee last weekend, allowing just four hits and two runs to send the Tar Heels to the Super Regional, Bergner gave UNC a scoreless 4.1 innings on the mound Sunday to keep the Tigers at bay in the early stages.

Love was also excellent in relief of Bergner, giving up two hits, no walks and no runs in 4.2 innings.

When was it decided?

Trailing by just a pair of runs, it felt as though Auburn was always within reach, especially in light of the Tigers’ nine-run explosion in the last two innings on Saturday. 

On Sunday, though, the Tar Heel bullpen was much improved in the form of Love, and the two-man effort on the mound propelled the team to a low-scoring, series-tying win.

Why does it matter?

With the victory, the Tar Heels are now just one win away from a second straight trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. 

After allowing nine runs to Auburn in the last two frames of Game 1, North Carolina didn't give up single a run to the Tigers over nine innings on Sunday, the team's first shutout since a May 14 win against High Point.

When do they play next?

UNC will look to take the rubber match of the best-of-three series tomorrow at 1 p.m.


@DTHSports |

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