The North Carolina baseball team (6-0, 2-0 ACC) defeated No. 2 Virginia (3-3, 0-2 ACC) 2-1 at Boshamer Stadium in the second game of a three-game series, clinching a series win against the highly-ranked Cavaliers to start its ACC schedule.
First-year pitcher Max Carlson started for the Tar Heels and held Virginia scoreless in the first inning. Red-shirt sophomore outfielder Angel Zarate hit a single for UNC in the bottom of the inning, but walked back to the dugout after a Cavaliers double play.
Carlson had his first strikeout in the second inning, while sophomore outfielder Justice Thompson hit a double. He then advanced all the way to third, while first-year catcher Tomas Frick went to first. A single from first-year second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi drove Thompson in and gave North Carolina a 1-0 lead.
The third inning brought a single for Virginia in its first hit of the game from infielder Max Cotier. Cotier was able to advance to second, but another Carlson strikeout closed the frame and stopped him from getting further than that.
In the fourth inning, Carlson held Virginia hitless, notching another strikeout on the Cavaliers' Devin Ortiz. In the bottom of the inning, Frick hit a single that advanced Thompson to third. Thompson later stole home to expand the North Carolina lead to 2-0.
In the fifth inning, Virginia's Logan Michaels hit a single and advanced to second off a wild pitch. Carlson had one strikeout on the inning, but allowed a Virginia run that made the score 2-1.
Carlson started the sixth inning with yet another strikeout, but the Cavaliers responded with a single and got a runner to second off another wild pitch. After Carlson allowed a walk, sophomore Nik Pry replaced him at pitcher.
Pry closed the top of the inning with two consecutive strikeouts, but the Tar Heels couldn’t score before the end of the inning.
In the seventh inning, Pry allowed a single and a walk, but got a strikeout and a flyout to keep the Cavaliers from scoring.
Pry started the eighth inning with back-to-back strikeouts, giving the Cavaliers no chance for a hit. In the bottom of the eighth, Thompson reached first on a walk, but could not score.
In the final inning, Pry added two more strikeouts to finish out the game and complete the Tar Heels' 2-1 victory.
Who stood out?
In the top of the sixth inning, Pry entered the game to relieve Carlson. He held onto the UNC lead and prevented any Virginia runs, while putting up seven strikeouts in less than four innings.
After a double and a home run in the first game of the series, Thompson couldn’t stop scoring the next game. He scored the Tar Heels’ only two runs of the game, being driven in by Castagnozzi in the second inning and stealing home in the fourth.
When was it decided?
North Carolina took the lead first and held it, but the game remained close through all nine innings of play. When Virginia scored in the fifth inning, the Cavaliers gained a little momentum. The situation improved for the Diamond Heels when Pry took over for Carlson, but the game was not out of reach for the Cavaliers until the sophomore pitcher struck out Michaels to end the game.
Why does it matter?
This game was the second of the three-game series, holding the power to determine the momentum of the series. The second Tar Heel win now makes it possible to sweep the series and maintain a perfect start to the season. The Diamond Heels will also hope to gain national recognition after beating the No. 2 team in the country in back-to-back games.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will finish out their three-game series against Virginia in Boshamer Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m.
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