Pitching depth and clutch hits might have been scarce for the North Carolina baseball team last season, but in the Tar Heels' 5-1 win over Elon Tuesday, it looked like those weaknesses were left in the dust.
With the help of some stellar pitching efforts and a resilient offensive approach, North Carolina bounced back after going down early, fighting hard until the end.
During their season-opening sweep of Seton Hall last weekend, the Tar Heels only allowed six runs while scoring 40, but they had to battle a little harder in its in-state battle against the Phoenix.
But now, heading into their weekend series against No. 25 East Carolina, the Diamond Heels are battle-tested, which they hope will pay dividends against a tough Pirates team.
“This weekend we didn’t have close games but tonight, it was a dog fight," sophomore pitcher Connor Bovair said. "Coach preaches that we are going to have those and to be able to pull away with a win like that, I think it's a good team booster going into the weekend.”
After watching starter Will Sandy work through the first four innings, Bovair stepped right in.
With a one-run lead in the top of the fifth, he kept the Phoenix bats silent, striking out seven in three innings of work to give his team a chance to expand its lead.
Having young players like Bovair contribute in this way was part of pitching coach Bryant Gaines' plan to keep the Elon batters guessing.
“Coach Gaines was calling a good game and keeping them off-balance,” Bovair said. “I was able to throw the fastball on the corners of the plate which kind of froze them a little bit, and my curveball was really working tonight.”