CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of times the UNC Baseball team dropped below .500 this season. The article has been updated to reflect the correct number. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
North Carolina baseball’s lackluster play continued on Tuesday night, as they fell 3-2 to UNC Greensboro and dropped below .500 for the second time this season.
UNCG got out to a fast start early, getting their leadoff hitter on base with a single and then following it up with a two-run homer from redshirt junior Greg Hardison. First-year pitcher Shawn Rapp then retired the next three batters he saw, stopping any further damage from the Spartans.
UNC looked to retaliate in the bottom of the first with runners on the corner thanks to a walk, hit by pitch and multiple wild pitches by UNCG starter Jacob Curry. However, the inning was cut short when sophomore shortstop Danny Serretti got picked off at first base. Then, in the next frame, freshman third baseman Mac Horvath delivered a solo home run with two outs to cut the Spartans' lead down to one.
In the top of the fifth, Rapp forced the first two outs, but then proceeded to give up a single and hit a batter to put runners on first and second. This led to Tar Heels skipper Scott Forbes to bring in senior pitcher Gage Gillian, who ended the inning with a groundout to second.
The UNC offense saw some success in the bottom of the fifth, getting their first two batters on base. However, all that momentum was lost when UNCG shortstop Zack Budzik had an impressive double play, leaping to catch a hard-hit liner by senior Dallas Tessar and getting the runner out at second.
In the bottom of the eighth, graduate player Brett Centracchio pinch hit and reached base on a single. With two outs, redshirt sophomore Angel Zarate singled to center, a high floater that advanced the runner to third base. First-year Tyler Causey, another pinch hitter, tied the game the game 2-2 with an RBI to center, again putting runners on the corners. A subsequent walk loaded the bases as sophomore Justice Thompson stepped up to the plate, but he grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, a missed tag by Horvath allowed the Spartans' Pres Cavenaugh to reach third on a double. UNCG would then get the lead back off a sac fly. UNC tried to strike up some magic with their last three outs, but were unable to make anything hapen
Who stood out?
After allowing the first two UNCG batters to reach base, Rapp dealt for the rest of the time he was in, recording seven strikeouts while only allowing a walk before getting pulled out in top of the fifth after hitting a batter.
When was it decided?
It was decided on the very last out, with Tessar up to the plate and a runner on second. The senior forced a 3-2 count, but struck out swinging to end the game.
Why does it matter?
This loss puts the Tar Heels under .500 for the second time this season, and also brings them a game closer to slipping out of fifth place in the ACC Coastal division as the ACC Tournament quickly approaches.
The team has lost six of their last seven games and has just two more ACC series and a matchup against UNC Wilmington to turn their slump around.
When do they play next?
UNC returns to play this Friday at Boshamer Stadium for a three-game series against Louisville. It will be a challenge for the Tar Heels to win its final home series of the season, as the Cardinals boast the second-best winning percentage in the conference.