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Tuesday August 9th

Despite Sabato's hitting, UNC struggles to reach base in 4-1 loss to Minnesota

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.
Buy Photos Sophomore Aaron Sabato in a Feb. 25, 2020 game against North Carolina A&T. Against Minnesota, Sabato was the only Tar Heel with more than one hit.

The North Carolina baseball team (7-3) lost a neutral site game against Minnesota (5-4), 4-1, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, despite a solid performance from sophomore Aaron Sabato. 

What happened?

After Minnesota started the game by sitting down three consecutive UNC batters, the Golden Gophers got the ball rolling early in the batter's box, scoring a first inning run off an RBI single from junior Easton Bertrand. 

Despite Sabato hitting a double to start the second inning, the Tar Heels struggled to get on base, with three consecutive outs leading to an end to North Carolina’s first scoring chance of the afternoon. Following Sabato’s double, not a single runner reached base for until the top of the fourth inning, when a Sabato sacrifice fly sent home sophomore Danny Serretti to tie the game at one.

Minnesota separated itself shortly after, scoring two runs on two hits in the bottom of the 5th, taking a 3-1 lead. Following this, North Carolina’s hitting woes would continue, with no runners reaching base in the 4th, 5th or 6th innings. 

A home run from Minnesota sophomore Zack Raabe put the nail in the coffin for UNC, as Minnesota took what became an insurmountable 4-1. 

The Tar Heels struggled to get on base for the rest of the game, with the final score being settled when junior Mikey Madej struck out swinging in the top of the ninth innings to seal a Golden Gopher victory.  

Who stood out?

In a game where North Carolina struggled to generate success at the plate, Sabato stood out in having a productive day. The first baseman was the only Tar Heel to notch multiple hits, and his game-tying RBI gave UNC a chance to win despite its offensive struggles. 

When was it decided?

Minnesota’s big fifth inning put the game firmly out of reach for UNC. With only four Tar Heels notching hits on Friday, all the Golden Gophers needed to do was score more than one run to decide the final result. 

With a solid pitching performance from the Minnesota staff, only three North Carolina reached base in the game’s final three frames. 

Why does it matter?

After losing nine players to last year’s MLB Draft, North Carolina’s biggest question mark entering the season was how a young line-up would react to getting more at-bats. While it's certainly not time to press the panic-button with the Tar Heels coming off of a victory over N.C. A&T on Tuesday, its first game against a major conference opponent did not have ideal results. 

With a long season still ahead, the Tar Heels line-up will have plenty of time to gain experience as the year progresses. Despite struggling against Minnesota, North Carolina will have two more chances against Big Ten opponents this weekend. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will stay in Minneapolis, through the weekend for a Saturday afternoon match-up against Iowa and a Sunday morning face off with Purdue. 

@zachycrain

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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