It's been a rough two weeks for the North Carolina baseball team.
The Tar Heels have lost six out of their last seven games, including getting swept by in-state rival N.C. State and losing to No. 8 East Carolina, before dropping two games in this weekend’s series against No. 18 Florida State.
The series was expected to be tough for UNC because of how well the Seminoles have played this season. Florida State came into the series winning eight of its last 10. The Tar Heels were able to steal a win in game one after hitting a walk-off single in the 9th inning. The second game was another tightly-contested battle, but the Tar Heels fell just short.
In game three on Easter Sunday, the Tar Heels suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, losing 8-0.
“I really don’t have much to say to be honest with you,” head coach Scott Forbes said. “We couldn’t throw strikes and we just had bad at-bats.”
Lackluster batting was the theme this weekend, but it was at its worst in the third game when the Tar Heels had a total of four hits and 12 strikeouts in 30 at-bats.
“I was extremely disappointed in our hitters after (Florida State) hit the home run,” Forbes said. “I thought for the first time all year, except for a couple, they didn’t compete in the box which is a big standard of ours.”
Competing at the plate is a key for the Tar Heels, considering how many times they have shown their ability to have an explosive offensive showing. However, with the exceptional performances come some disappointing ones as well — creating a problem of consistency at the plate for the Tar Heels.
The veteran North Carolina players must step up in order for the offense to steadily produce. Sophomores Justice Thompson and Caleb Roberts, as well as redshirt sophomores Danny Serretti and Angel Zarate, have all been big sources of offense. But all have had their share of struggles during the past six ACC games.
“We’re playing some of the young guys, I think our older guys just have to be flat out better,” Forbes said. “You can’t expect so many young guys to give you that production — they’re going to feed off some of the older guys.”
Roberts said consistency comes with taking the game at-bat by at-bat. He also said Forbes told his team to be aggressive going into game three, especially with the talent on the mound the Tar Heels faced.
“The (pitcher) today we knew threw a lot of off-speed pitches, so I think we might’ve tried to do a little bit too much,” Roberts said. “We just have to stick to our approach, and just try to barrel the ball up and good things will happen. We gotta do a better job at that.”
Even though the Tar Heels are in a slump, there are some positives to take away from their performance over the weekend. They fought hard against a Florida State team sitting third in the Atlantic Division standings. All weekend, the Seminoles simply outplayed the Tar Heels, and it showed the most in the series finale.
All that's left for North Carolina is to find a way to bounce back.
Forbes and the veterans players have the mindset to get it done.
“We know that we can play with anyone in the country, and that’s a good sign,” Roberts said. “We know how good we are, and we haven’t played our best baseball yet, but we’re just going to keep getting better everyday.”