After falling behind early in its last three contests, the North Carolina baseball team reversed its fortunes Friday night against rival N.C. State.
Although Tuesday's loss to Pitt eliminated the No. 6 seed Tar Heels from the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, Friday's game gave them one last chance to prove themselves worthy of an at-large bid in front of a big in-state crowd in Charlotte.
For a young team that has come up short in many key situations this year, Friday was a different story for the Tar Heels — but head coach Scott Forbes has not been shy about his team's struggles with runners in scoring position this season.
“To get the bases loaded with no outs — it’s been a year where we’ve gotten them loaded with no outs ... and early in the season, I think we were at Pitt — and you get one (run),” Forbes said. “You come in the dugout and say that's probably gonna getcha.”
After having the bases juiced early in the first inning on Friday, UNC did not return to the dugout scoreless. Forbes' team put up six runs to take a big, early lead.
First-year third baseman Mac Horvath led the charge for the Tar Heels from his first at-bat.
With one run already on the board in the first, Horvath grabbed the big blast that the Tar Heels had been missing — hitting the team’s first grand slam since April 2019. It barely snuck over the left field fence, but it was all the team needed to turn things around at the plate.
The umpires initially ruled the hit in-play, but a review following a challenge by Forbes changed the call to a home run.
“I hit the ball and I saw it going, and I think I touched first and I saw it bounce and I was like, 'Is that not a home run?'" Horvath said. “I was like, 'You have to challenge that,' because it’s the difference between four runs and one, and it turned out in our favor.”