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Friday August 12th

UNC baseball defeated Elon behind Eric Grintz's 4 RBI performance

<p>UNC baseball first-year and first basemen, Aaron Sabato (19), runs to first base after hitting the ball during the final game in the regional championships versus Tennessee on Sunday June 2, 2019. UNC won 5-2.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC baseball first-year and first basemen, Aaron Sabato (19), runs to first base after hitting the ball during the final game in the regional championships versus Tennessee on Sunday June 2, 2019. UNC won 5-2. 

The North Carolina baseball team (4-0) routed Elon (3-1) 7-1 Tuesday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium behind a 4-for-4 performance by first-year Eric Grintz.

What happened?

North Carolina wasted little time on offense as redshirt sophomore Angel Zarate and first-year Patrick Alvarez drew walks in the bottom of the second. Redshirt sophomore Earl Semper then promptly laced a single to left field, and North Carolina took a 1-0 lead. With one out Grintz stepped to the plate with runners on first and second, but on a wild pitch, those runners moved up 90 feet. On a full count, Grintz hit a sharp single to right field that drove in two runs. After a groundout, senior Dylan Harris jumped on the first pitch and made it 4-0 North Carolina.

In the top of the third, Elon led off with a single, but the next two batters struck out. The next hitter singled in the right-center field gap to advance the runner to third. With the runners at the corners, the trailing runner stole second base to put two runners in scoring position with two outs. Junior Caden O’Brien then issued a walk to load the bases. Then O’Brien managed an 0-2 count before hitting the batter and forcing in a run to shrink the lead to 4-1. UNC would get the third out on the next batter.

Sophomore Kyle Mott took over for O’Brien on the mound in the top of the fourth and got two quick outs before surrendering a single but rebounded with a strikeout. In the bottom half, North Carolina scored on a single from junior Mikey Madej to push the lead to 5-1.

The next few innings were relatively quiet as Mott dominated Elon and retired the next six batters. 

North Carolina scored again in the bottom of the eighth on Grintz's fourth hit to add another two runs to their tally and give them a comfortable cushion of 7-1. This would be the eventual final score.

Who stood out?

Grintz went 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, one run scored and four RBIs. Semper also had an impressive 2-for-3 day, he scored two runs, drove in a run and was hit by a pitch. 

On the mound, O’Brien went three innings, surrendered two hits, two walks and gave up one run. His seven strikeouts against the Pheonix matched O’Brien’s career high. Another stand out pitching performance came from Mott who only allowed one baserunner on a two-out single in the top of the fourth. 

When was it decided?

In the bottom of the second North Carolina jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, which provided enough of a lead to maintain throughout the game. Behind O’Brien and Mott’s performances, Elon was unable to get any offense going. 

Why does it matter?

North Carolina has started hot and is now 4-0, and Grintz has provided a nice boost to the lineup as his eight RBI lead the team. The Tar Heels were aggressive at the plate as they had seven at-bats where batters only saw one pitch.

Head coach Mike Fox said Elon did well pitching to stifle his hitters, but the team is always looking for an early jump.

“I mean we’re always looking to do damage early in an at-bat, so just take what the pitcher gives you,” Fox said. “I thought their pitchers threw well and kind of kept us off-balanced, they threw a lot of breaking balls.”

When do they play next?

North Carolina must quickly shift gears as they play High Point Wednesday, Feb. 19, the game is set for 3 p.m.

@A_ReynoldsDTH

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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