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UNC baseball gives up ninth inning lead and suffers a walk-off loss to Iowa

UNC sophomore First Basemen Aaron Sabato (19) at bat on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 in Boshamer Stadium against NC A&T. UNC beat NC A&T 8-0.

The North Carolina baseball team (7-4) suffered a 5-4 loss in walk-off fashion to Iowa (4-4) in the bottom of the tenth inning on Saturday at the Cambria College Classic weekend series.

What happened?

The Tar Heels jumped on Iowa early in the top of the first inning, as redshirt sophomore Angel Zarate tripled to right-center field and later scored on a double from sophomore Aaron Sabato for a 1-0 lead. Another triple, this time from first-year Will Stewart, scored Sabato to push the North Carolina lead to 2-0.

On the mound, Lancellotti cut through the Hawkeyes early in the game. Through four innings he struck out four batters and surrendered just one baserunner.

Senior Dylan Harris then hit the third triple for North Carolina in the top of the fifth inning with one out. Zarate later drove in Harris to give the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead.

Lancellotti continued to dominate into the bottom of the sixth. He sat down 11 consecutive batters before giving up his second walk of the game through five innings pitched. In the bottom of the seventh, Lancelotti was tossing a no-hitter, but the Hawkeyes got their first hit on a single to right field. He would then be replaced by redshirt sophomore Austin Love to start the eighth inning.

In the top of the ninth, North Carolina got an insurance run to extend its lead to 4-0 and just needed three outs in the bottom of the frame. But the lead soon unraveled as there were four walks, a two-run single, and a one-out sacrifice fly that tied the game 4-4 and forced the game into extra innings.

In its first chance in extras, UNC quickly got runners on first and second base before Iowa intentionally walked Sabato. With the bases loaded and one out, sophomore Danny Serretti hit into a fielder’s choice where Iowa got the out at home, preventing a North Carolina run. Stewart then had a chance with the bases juiced and grounded out to the second baseman, ending the Tar Heel threat.

Sophomore Nik Pry started the bottom of the tenth on the mound for UNC and struck out the first two batters. Then, on an 0-2 count, Iowa hit a walk-off home run over the left-center field wall to complete a five-run comeback and stun North Carolina 5-4.

Who stood out?

Lancellotti stood out as he carried a no-hitter through 6.2 innings of work. He pitched seven innings, had six strikeouts, two walks and allowed just one hit.

When was it decided?

The game couldn't be decided in nine innings. North Carolina surrendered a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning on one hit and four walks to even the score at 4-4. Despite having the bases loaded with one out in the tenth inning, UNC couldn’t capitalize. In the bottom of the tenth, Pry recorded back-to-back strikeouts and got an 0-2 count on the third batter. But Iowa jolted a ball over the left-centerfield wall to walk the game off.

Why does it matter?

After a 6-0 start to the year where North Carolina outscored opponents 52-9, the team has faltered since with a 1-4 record in its last five games. Lancellotti continued his impressive start to the season behind this performance despite not getting a decision in the matter. 

While there is no good time to be on a losing streak, North Carolina enters a tough stretch of games against Purdue, UNC Greensboro, Virginia Commonwealth University and a weekend series against Notre Dame.

When do they play next?

North Carolina wraps up the Cambria College Classic weekend Sunday at 11 a.m. as they face Purdue in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


@DTHSports |

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