The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday March 4th

Strong pitching, Thompson's four hits fuel UNC baseball's 7-4 win over James Madison

<p>UNC first-year pitcher Max Carlson (35) delivers a pitch during UNC's 7-4 win over James Madison at Boshamer Stadium, Feb. 20, 2021.</p>
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UNC first-year pitcher Max Carlson (35) delivers a pitch during UNC's 7-4 win over James Madison at Boshamer Stadium, Feb. 20, 2021.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Johnny Castagnozzi bobbled a ball during the top of the third inning. Max Carlson was the player who bobbled the ball. The story has been updated to reflect the changes. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error. 

In the second game of the North Carolina baseball team’s opening weekend, the Tar Heels defeated JMU, 7-4, in Boshamer Stadium on Saturday.

What happened?

The first and second innings were quiet for both teams, as the Tar Heels held up defensively with first-year starting pitcher Max Carlson, who allowed no Dukes to touch first base.

The game picked up at the top of third. After an attempted pickoff at second, Carlson bobbled the ball, and the runner on third scored James Madison’s second run of the series. 

At the bottom of the inning, Carlson made up for his error by hitting a single and was bumped to second when redshirt sophomore Angel Zarate was walked. Next at-bat, Johnny Castagnozzi tagged up and ran to third. When sophomore Caleb Roberts batted, he grounded out and brought in Castagnozzi for the Tar Heels’ first run of the afternoon. 

Sophomore Justice Thompson followed, hitting a fly ball to left-center field for a double, and Zarate, who had stolen second, ran to home plate. Under pressure with two outs, grad student Brett Centracchio slammed a double to right field, allowing Thompson to score in North Carolina’s third run.

In the fifth inning, Roberts doubled to right field. Next at the plate, Thompson hit a home run to bring both players in to score two more runs for the Tar Heels.

James Madison got runs on the board in the top of the seventh inning when the Dukes' Carson Bell hit a single to left field and brought in two runners. Carlson was relieved by right-handed pitcher Davis Palermo after 6.2 innings.

In the top of the eighth, North Carolina’s defense when the Dukes scored after a wild pitch, bringing James Madison within one run.

North Carolina warmed back up at the bottom of the eighth, though, after both Castagnozzi and Serretti walked, and Roberts mashed a triple to the warning track for two runs.

The game ended with junior right-handed pitcher Joey Lancellotti rotating in and striking out the last three Dukes, tallying the final score to 7-4.

Who stood out? 

Carlson played his very first game at North Carolina as a starting pitcher, throwing an impressive 6.2 innings. He only gave up three hits, three runs and one walk with eight strikeouts. Carlson’s outstanding play earned him a standing ovation from the very small crowd as he stepped off the mound in the seventh inning.

Coming off a shaky start in the first game, Thompson played consistently at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.

When was it decided?

The game seemed decisive after the fifth inning and North Carolina’s four-run lead. When JMU came within one run by the top of the eighth, the Tar Heels needed to fire back to maintain their lead, and Roberts’ triple earned them two insurance runs to secure the win.

Why does it matter?

After the first day’s blowout, UNC head coach Scott Forbes was anticipating a James Madison comeback to tie up the wins for the third game. Although the Dukes put up a fight, North Carolina’s play on the mound made it difficult for JMU to get runs on the board.

Forbes and his team are now 2-0, and they look to add another win to that record in the final game of the series on Sunday.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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