After losing three consecutive games, the North Carolina baseball team (7-3, 3-3 ACC) bounced back to defeat No. 24 Virginia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC), 9-6, to close out the weekend series.
Despite opening the series with two consecutive losses, UNC came into today’s game ready to compete. The Tar Heels opened its strong offensive performance in the top of the second, when Max Troiani led off with a double down the right field line. Two batters later, junior Clemente Inclan singled to right center, which gave the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
Later in the inning, redshirt sophomore Angel Zarate continued the momentum when he knocked a single to right field to drive in two more runs. The next batter, sophomore Caleb Roberts, hit a sacrifice fly to put the score at 4-0.
Down by four, the Hokies would quickly respond in the bottom half of the second. Tanner Schobel hit a home run to make the score 4-1, and Jack Hurley hit a three-run homer to tie the game at 4. Later in the inning, Gavin Cross scored on a passed ball, and the Hokies led, 5-4.
In the top of the third inning, the Tar Heels responded when first-year Tomas Frick drove in Troiani. After three innings, the game was tied, 5-5.
The game slowed down for the next couple of innings, but UNC regained the lead in the top of the sixth with a home run from sophomore Danny Serretti, and led, 6-5.
In the top of the seventh, the Tar Heels broke the game open, scoring three runs. Serretti drove in his second run of the game with a single to right, and first-year Tyler Causey singled to right to knock in another run. UNC would tack on one more when Zarate laid down a sacrifice bunt to plate Serretti, and the Tar Heels led, 9-5.
Although the Hokies scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, the Tar Heels would shut it down the rest of the way and held on for a 9-6 win.
Following three consecutive losses, head coach Scott Forbes was pleased with how the team responded and played with confidence.
“I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of character,” Forbes said. “It’s the kind of series we needed.”
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels’ offense was strong once again, collecting nine hits for the second consecutive game.
On the mound, Nick James and Shawn Rapp had solid outings. James picked up his first win of the season and struck out four batters in 2.1 hitless frames. Rapp picked up the save and struck out three Hokies.
Altogether, UNC was able to turn in a complete performance.
“I’m proud of the guys for having an understanding and perspective of our job here,” Troiani said.
When was it decided?
Although the Tar Heels only led by one after six innings, the team’s three runs in the seventh solidified the win.
Why does it matter?
This was UNC’s first away series of the season, and although the Tar Heels did not win the first two games, defeating a formidable Virginia Tech team in the finale should give the team some confidence moving forward.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will return to Boshamer Stadium on March 9 to face Liberty University at 3 p.m.
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