The No. 24 Diamond Heels (11-1) completed a series sweep of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (7-5) in another 4-3 walk-off win at Boshamer Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Coastal Carolina’s Dale Thomas was the first person to cross the plate for either team. His solo home run in the top of the third inning bounced off of UNC’s video board and gave the Chanticleers the early advantage.
In the bottom of the third inning with two outs, redshirt junior Angel Zarate drove a double to right field. Sophomore catcher Tomas Frick followed, and drove a base hit to right field, scoring Zarate from second base to tie the game at 1-1.
The top of the fifth saw a bit more action as the Chanticleers tacked on another run. After Thomas walked with one out, senior left fielder Nick Lucky singled to center field despite a diving effort from first-year Vance Honeycutt. A sac fly from junior shortstop Eric Brown scored Thomas and gave Coastal Carolina a 2-1 lead.
The Tar Heels were quick to respond in the bottom of the next inning, after sophomore first baseman Hunter Stokely’s RBI single with two outs scored Johnny Castagnozzi from second base to tie the game.
The Chanticleers took the lead once again in the top of the eighth. With two runners on base, junior Graham Brown was put in to pinch-hit for the Chanticleers. On Brown’s RBI single to left field, redshirt junior Kameron Guangorena was able to score from second base, but not without some controversy. UNC’s Angel Zarate, who was moved to left field earlier in the game, completed a throw that caught Guangorena at the plate. He was originally called out, but after review was called safe due to obstruction.
On a 1-1 count, Osuna led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo shot that tied things up for the Tar Heels once again. The score was stuck at 3-3 at the end of the ninth inning, sending the game into extras.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Stokely hit a single down the first baseline and was subsequently replaced by pinch runner Reece Holbrook. Holbrook quickly advanced to third after a stolen base and a wild pitch. After a walk by Will Stewart, UNC attempted to manufacture a squeeze bunt play with Honeycutt at the plate. However, Coastal Carolina’s pitcher Luke Barrow fielded the bunt cleanly and tossed it to Guangorena to get the tag out at home. Ultimately, UNC was still able to come up with the walk-off win after a single from sophomore catcher Eric Grintz scored Stewart from third.
Who stood out?
Zarate showed his defensive chops multiple times throughout Sunday’s game. He recorded four putouts on fly balls, including a highlight reel worthy catch in left field in the top of the ninth, which saw Zarate backtrack several yards and reach high above his head to complete the difficult play.
Offensively, Osuna was critical to keeping the Tar Heels in the game. His clutch home run in the bottom of the eighth tied the game back up for UNC. Without his solo home run, it’s unclear if UNC would have been able to pull off Sunday’s victory. Stokely was also impressive, with two hits, an RBI and a walk in four at-bats.
When was it decided?
Just like Friday night’s victory, this game wasn’t over until it was over. In the bottom of the tenth inning, after a botched squeeze bunt attempt, Grintz stepped up with two outs and delivered a decisive single to left field to score Stewart from third and capture the walk-off win.
Why does it matter?
Sunday’s game against Coastal Carolina put the issues of UNC’s bullpen, mainly their lack of depth, on blast. Compared to the previous two games of the series which saw UNC only utilize three pitchers, Sunday saw the Tar Heels make seven different pitching changes. While UNC ultimately pulled off the 4-3 win, their bullpen has got to improve to sustain them through several tough series against upcoming ACC opponents.
On the other hand, with this series sweep over Coastal Carolina, UNC is now heading into conference play on Friday against Pittsburgh with at least an 11-1 record and multiple wins over top-30 teams. This momentum will surely help the Diamond Heels as they roll into the mid-section of their season.
When do they play next?
UNC will travel to Lynchburg to face Liberty this Tuesday at 4 p.m.
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