When sophomore shortstop Danny Serretti stepped into the batter's box in the top of the ninth inning of No. 14 UNC baseball's series-clinching 5-4 win over No. 21 Boston College on Sunday, he had one goal in mind.
"Just put the ball in play," Serretti said.
But he didn't just put it in play — he knocked the RBI that won both the game and series for the Diamond Heels.
Before the series started on Friday, the Tar Heels were just 1-3 in away games, dropping two games to a talented Virginia Tech squad and one to Liberty.
But for a team with the high aspirations of UNC, head coach Scott Forbes said it best.
“Championship teams have to win on the road,” he said.
But he acknowledged how hard this can be with the tough competition the Tar Heels face this season. For Forbes, the key to bringing his young squad more confidence is winning the tough ones outside of Boshamer Stadium.
And when it came to bringing his team more confidence, Serretti's performance did just that.
Forbes recognized Serretti as one of the leaders for the Tar Heels, and when the time came to lead his team in this series, Serretti delivered. Both player and coach emphasize poise and collectedness, and those attributes were exactly what the team needed.
“Coach Forbes is super big into sticking with the process," Serretti said. "Being process-oriented, staying in the moment, not letting your emotions get too riled up or anything."
It was that same mentality that carried Serretti through the whole weekend, especially in the final moments of Sunday's series-clinching third game.
Despite having a slow start to the season with a .217 batting average, Serretti remained level-headed, and his bat came up big for the Tar Heels throughout the series. Forbes said he knew it was only a matter of time until the shortstop showed his talent.
“I’m not one to get caught up in what people think on the outside,” Forbes said. “I’ve believed in him. I know what he can do, he’s been here, and I know his toughness, and he's really been hitting a lot of balls hard throughout the season. That batting average is such a misleading number.”
Serretti homered twice — once in game one and once in game three — with a combined five hits and seven RBIs in 13 at-bats on the series. In the decisive at-bat in the ninth inning on Sunday, he found himself down 1-2 in the count, with the risk of striking out in what had to be a clutch moment.
But Serretti came up big with a triple to right-center field, bringing home sophomore outfielder Justice Thompson for the winning score.
“A lot of times, Danny is at his best, especially right-handed, when he gets two strikes," Forbes said. "When he got two strikes, I’m telling myself, ‘OK, I’m not going to give the steal sign here to (Thompson) because (Serretti) is probably going to move the ball at least.’ He was rewarded for it, and it was a heck of a swing."
After pulling off the series win against Boston College, Serretti and the rest of the Diamond Heels must continue this success going into next week’s matchups against a tough East Carolina squad and ACC foe N.C. State.
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