The spring intrasquad scrimmages are underway for the North Carolina baseball team ahead of the beginning of the 2021 season.
With seven games played already, these scrimmages are foreshadowing the talent to look forward to this spring season.
The skill and expertise of this team is exemplified in the close scrimmage record. The Blue squad currently holds the lead over the Navy squad, 4-3.
The Navy squad took the first win, 7-2, in Boshamer Stadium with a three-run homer from junior college transfer Justice Thompson.
Navy came from behind with a total of eleven runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a big 14-3 win over Blue during the seven-inning second game of the series. In that same game, 11 different pitchers saw action on both teams.
The Blue squad took a win next game, riding a three-run sixth inning to put them on top in the third scrimmage. First-year Josh Dotson started as pitcher, giving up no runs in 4.1 innings, and sophomore Will Sandy followed with three scoreless innings after coming in for relief.
Pitching dominated the fourth matchup, as Navy held Blue scoreless through all nine innings, with a final score of 3-0. Redshirt sophomore Austin Love was a standout for the Navy squad, pitching five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out six with zero walks.
But Love wasn’t the only pitcher to stand out with a dominant performance.
First-year pitcher Max Carlson threw five scoreless innings while relinquishing just one base hit in Blue’s 4-3 win over Navy in the Tar Heels’ scripted scrimmage and fifth matchup last Saturday.
These early signs of strong outings on the mound should be encouraging for UNC fans who witnessed last year's team struggle with its pitching before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunday’s scrimmage saw two Thompson solo homers, and first-year pitcher Caleb Cozart throwing five scoreless innings to lift Blue over Navy in an 11-3 win. Blue also took a 6-4 win Monday during the five-inning seventh scrimmage.
Some obvious standouts have emerged for the Tar Heels throughout the scrimmages. Love doesn't seem to have lost any of his skill from an impressive 2019 season, while Carlson’s performance in the fifth matchup showed promise from him as a pitcher. This will be crucial for the Tar Heels, especially after losing redshirt junior pitcher Gianluca Dalatri to the St. Louis Cardinals in June 2020.
Other players emerging through the scrimmages who are looking to make a difference for the Tar Heels this upcoming season are Thompson and first-year catcher Tomas Frick, who had a three-run home run on Monday’s matchup.
The Tar Heels’ scrimmages have been put on pause due to weather concerns, but their official season opens at home with a weekend series against Kentucky starting on Friday, Feb 19.