The North Carolina baseball team has been nothing short of impressive this season. After a stellar 18-3 record through 21 games this season, UNC climbed to No. 13 in the official NCAA rankings and proved to be one of the top teams in college baseball.
While there is still much to celebrate about this team, UNC has reached a pivotal point in their season after a winless weekend series against the red-hot Miami Hurricanes.
Miami — a team that has now won eight of its last 10 matchups — stunned the Tar Heels Sunday by completing the series sweep in Coral Gables, Fla.
North Carolina showed a lot of fight in its losing efforts, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the mistakes made in the three games.
In UNC’s first game against Miami, the Tar Heels were uncharacteristically down big late in the game. While the Tar Heels started an impressive run in the last two innings after being down seven, their comeback fell short in the end.
In game two, UNC was starting to look a lot more solid early on, yet fell apart late in the game, conceding five straight unanswered runs to the Hurricanes and losing by a score of three runs to seven.
UNC sought to avoid the sweep in game three yet lost a 14-inning marathon to a walk-off single by Miami’s Renzo Gonzalez.
Early on in this series, it was clear North Carolina was not playing to the level it had been playing earlier in the season.
Starting pitcher Brandon Schaeffer gave up six hits and three runs in over two innings of work, bringing his seasonal ERA to 4.18. In the second game, pitcher Kyle Mott allowed four runs in just two innings.
While North Carolina certainly had a disappointing trip to Miami this weekend, there are some highlights to keep the Diamond Heels’ chins up for the matchups to come.
Outfielder Angel Zarate has been solid at the plate this season. This Sunday, he extended his streaks of games being on-base to 47 and games with a hit to 24. Zarate also totaled his multi-hit games this season to 11.
Pitcher Max Carlson has also been shining all season despite the recent pitching woes for UNC. Carlson recorded many impressive season-lows in the loss on Sunday, including 11 strikeouts, one walk and two hits in five innings. Although the sophomore has only pitched 24.2 innings this season, he sits atop the ACC leaderboards in ERA.
UNC is in desperate need to get back in the win column after going winless in its series against Miami. The Diamond Heels will hope to do so against UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday as they venture back home to face the Seahawks.
This season has been rocky for Wilmington, yet they are no team to take lightly. Earlier this season, the Diamond Heels swept Coastal Carolina in a trio of close games against the 2016 national champions. The Seahawks also competed against the Chanticleers in an impressive 9-4 win.
UNCW has favored its offense more than its defense this season which could prove to be a challenge for the Diamond Heels. Due to the recent pitching issues from this latest series, UNC will have to tidy up that aspect of its game against the Seahawks if they want to secure the victory on Tuesday in Boshamer Stadium.
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