The undefeated UNC baseball team (6-0) continued its successful start to the season on Saturday, and winning the second game of the series 2-0 against the East Carolina Pirates (1-5) at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill.
With a slow start to the game, both team’s defense and pitching were spot-on. It took until the top of the fourth for the Pirates to build any offensive momentum. The Pirates had two players on base with outfielder Cam Clonch up to bat. Clonch hit a deep ball to right field, but sophomore outfielder Angel Zarate was able to grab the ball off the wall and throw it to sophomore second basemen Patrick Alvarez for the final out of the inning.
After a quiet first couple innings, it was again Zarate who made a decisive play. With two men on base in the bottom of the fifth, a deep hit to center field from Zarate drove first-year outfielders Reece Holbrook and Vance Honeycutt home, breaking the deadlock.
Though both teams' pitching staffs were firing on all cylinders, UNC’s defense put the Diamond Heels just slightly ahead, with the Pirates registering more than a single hit in just one inning. When senior closer Caden O'Brien tossed three straight strikeouts in the top of the ninth, the 2-0 victory was sealed.
Who stood out?
Sophomore pitcher Max Carlson pitched for the first five innings and had five strikeouts while registering the win, stopping the Pirates from scoring in the beginning of the game. After suffering a season-ending injury last April, the rightie looks to have recovered well and figures to be an important member of the rotation this season.
All three UNC pitchers after Carlson stepped up and finished the game strong with no runs scored by the Pirates, giving up just one hit and one base-on-balls among the three of them.
On the offensive end, Honeycutt also played well, registering a hit and two stolen bases in three at bats. ECU played great defense was lights-out from the mound, with Zarate's hit the only scoring moment that divided the two teams.
When was it decided?
With the strong fight that the Pirates put up against the Tar Heels on Friday night, it was clear that this game was going to be close. Both teams battled back and forth until the bottom of the fifth inning when Zarate brought home two runs. The pitching and defense that UNC brought throughout the game made it extremely difficult for their in-state rivals.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels needed this win before they travel for their first away game in Greenville tomorrow afternoon. Every victory for UNC will help them throughout the season, especially against a team that was ranked 12th in the country to start the season.
When do they play next?
UNC will hit the road on Sunday in its last game against ECU at 4 p.m. in Greenville.
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