The No. 24 North Carolina baseball (10-1) won the second game of its home series against Coastal Carolina (7-4) in a 4-0 shutout at Boshamer Stadium on Saturday.
Unlike the beginning of Friday’s game, Saturday saw a much slower start for both teams. Neither team scored until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Friday night’s hero Mac Horvath stepped up for the Tar Heels again.
With two outs, Horvath drove a pitch to right field, just barely looping over a leaping Matt McDermott at second base. That brought up sophomore designated hitter Alberto Osuna, who drove a pitch to the far corner of left field. His double scored Horvath from first base, and marks his second double in this series.
The very next batter for the Tar Heels, sophomore first baseman Hunter Stokely, singled to score Osuna from second. This two-out rally by the Tar Heels put them up 2-0 after three and a half scoreless innings.
In the top of the fifth, head coach Scott Forbes took out sophomore right-handed pitcher and Saturday starter Max Carlson. Carlson left the game with five strikeouts, two walks and two hits allowed through four innings pitched. Senior right-handed pitcher Gage Gillian was put in, and he immediately recorded a flyout, a strikeout and another flyout to retire the side.
After two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, the seventh inning saw some more production from the Tar Heels.
In the bottom of the seventh with one out, first-year center fielder Vance Honeycutt walked and then, during Angel Zarate’s at-bat, stole second base. Zarate’s groundout to first base moved Honeycutt to third, and brought up sophomore catcher Tomas Frick. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Frick hit a line drive into shallow center field to bring in Honeycutt and extend North Carolina’s lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the very next inning, Horvath was hit by a pitch in his at-bat, and then stole second to put himself in scoring position. With his second hit and RBI of the game, Stokely scored Horvath from second, adding another run on the scoreboard for UNC, finalizing their 4-0 win over Coastal Carolina.
Who stood out?
Carlson got the start on Saturday and held the Chanticleers scoreless in four innings pitched. He has yet to give up a run this season.
However, it was Gillian’s performance from the mound that truly stood out this Saturday afternoon. In his best outing of the season so far, Gillian pitched three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He only allowed one hit from Coastal Carolina during his reign on the mound.
Ultimately though, Stokely was the star of today’s game. In addition to his RBI in the fourth inning, his single in the bottom of the eighth scored Horvath from second, and made him 2-4 on the evening. Notably, this is Stokely’s third-straight multi-hit game. In the last four games he’s gone 7-12, and has already recorded more hits in these first eleven games than he did all of last season.
When was it decided?
In the top of the eight inning with one out, senior left fielder Nick Lucky got on base for the Chanticleers with a single. After a strikeout from Eric Brown, catcher Kameron Guangorena also singled to put runners on first and second.
However, the next batter for the Chanticleers, first baseman Cooper Weiss, grounded out to third base, ending the hopes for a Coastal Carolina comeback in the top of the eighth. With the run from Horvath coming in the bottom of the same inning bringing North Carolina to a 4-0 lead heading into the ninth, the ultimate fate of the game was clear.
Why does it matter?
Saturday’s game marks UNC’s third shutout win this season in just eleven games played. With the combined performances of Carlson, Gillian and senior left-handed pitcher Caden O’Brien, Saturday saw an impressive showing from the Tar Heel pitching staff. Comparatively to last year, where the Tar Heels recorded only one shutout win their entire season, North Carolina is on track to have a tough Saturday pitching lineup for competitors.
On the offensive end, all four runs today were scored with two outs. The ability for the Tar Heel offense, and especially the middle and bottom of the lineup, to be able to produce in tough situations like this will bode well for UNC if they can continue this trend.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels will be back at Boshamer Stadium on Sunday to face Coastal Carolina in their third game of the series at 1 p.m.
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