In its first conference matchup of the 2022 season, the No.15 North Carolina baseball team (12-2, 1-0 ACC) fought hard in a back-and-forth contest against Pittsburgh (8-5, 0-1 ACC), to emerge with a 7-4 victory.
The Panthers got on the board first, scoring their first run of the game in the top of the first off an RBI base hit from senior second baseman Jeffery Wehler to take an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Tar Heels evened things back up at one off of a groundout to shortstop from sophomore second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi that brought in first-year centerfielder Vance Honeycutt from third.
In the top of the second, Pittsburgh retook the lead after senior centerfielder Jordan Anderson knocked an RBI single to centerfield, making the score 2-1. The score remained steady through the third but in the bottom of the fourth, North Carolina’s bats finally woke up, scoring two runs off an RBI groundout from sophomore designated hitter Alberto Osuna and an RBI single to right-centerfield from sophomore first baseman Hunter Stokely to take their first lead of the day at 3-2.
The Tar Heels added another run in the bottom of the fifth after Honeycutt knocked his sixth home run of the season over the centerfield wall to extend the North Carolina lead to two, 4-2. After being held quiet since the second, the Panther bats woke back up in the bottom of the sixth with senior left fielder Ron Washington Jr. hitting a long two-run homer over the centerfield fence to tie things back up at four.
Sophomore Mac Horvath drove in his eighth run of the season in the bottom of the sixth to help the Tar Heels reclaim their lead at 5-4. North Carolina added two more runs in the seventh and eighth to extend their lead to three and the bullpen shut Pittsburgh down at the plate to guide the Tar Heels to a 7-4 victory.
Who stood out?
It was a combined effort at the plate for North Carolina with seven Tar Heel batters registering RBIs. Castagnozzi, Osuna, Stokely, Horvath, Honeycutt, and seniors Angel Zarate and Danny Serretti all drove in runs for North Carolina.
The bullpen led the way for the Tar Heel pitching staff with junior Kyle Mott and senior lefty Caden O’Brien combining for 3.2 innings of shutout ball, registering three strikeouts on one walk as a pair.
When was it decided?
After a back-and-forth start, North Carolina reclaimed their lead in the bottom of the sixth and didn’t look back. The Tar Heel bullpen silenced the Panther bats after starter Brandon Schaeffer was pulled and the offense tacked on a couple more late runs to pad the North Carolina lead, resulting in a three-run, 7-4 victory.
Why does it matter?
After dropping their midweek contest against No.14 Liberty, the Tar Heels were able to bounce after being shut out by the Flames to score six runs against Pittsburgh. North Carolina was also able to pick up a win in their first ACC matchup of the season after getting off to a hot start against non-conference competition.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will be back in action on Saturday in Chapel Hill for the second game of their weekend series against the Panthers. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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