In the first game of the weekend’s ACC coastal match-up against Georgia Tech (22-13, 8-8), the North Carolina baseball team (21-13, 7-9) could not overcome pitching woes in a 15-12 loss.
Things did not go in UNC's favor early in the first inning. After first-year pitcher Max Carlson walked the first batter of the game, Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada smashed a homer to right field, giving the Yellow Jackets an immediate 2-0 lead.
After a double to left field sent two more Yellow Jackets to second and third, Georgia Tech took advantage of a dropped pitch by sophomore catcher Tomas Frick and scored its third run of the inning. Carlson was able to halt the attack with a strikeout following the error.
Down 3-0, sophomore third baseman Mac Horvath delivered the first strike in the Tar Heels’ response with a single to center field. Junior shortstop Danny Serretti followed with a single of his own — barely getting the ball out of reach of the outfielder to send Horvath to third.
Horvath scored the first run for UNC from a single to left field by sophomore first baseman Alberto Osuna.
Two at-bats later, the Tar Heels took their first lead of the game with a three-run homer hit by senior second baseman Mikey Madej.
Despite the flip of momentum, Georgia Tech continued to find success at the plate in the second inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Georgia Tech’s Andrew Jenkins tripled to right field — sending both runners home to regain a 5-4 lead.
A call to the bullpen was made shortly after to send junior pitcher Kyle Mott to the mound for Carlson. Mott ended the inning with a strikeout.
In the bottom of the second, the explosive offense continued. After a Frick single, redshirt-junior outfielder Angel Zarate homered to right field for yet another lead change to make the score 6-5 going into the third.
After a quiet third inning, Georgia Tech once again took the lead in the fourth due to some fielding missed opportunities by the Tar Heels that led to runners on base. Sophomore pitcher Shawn Rapp came in to replace Mott and didn’t give up any more runs for the rest of the inning.
Just when it seemed as if the game was calming down through the fifth inning, Georgia Tech extended its lead in the top of the sixth with a three-run homer to put themselves up 11-7.
But, the Tar Heels were not yet down and out as first-year infielder Hunter Stokely crushed a solo homer to right field — cutting the deficit to three. Zarate continued the rally with a double to left center and was brought home by Horvath’s homer over the scoreboard.
Even after making it a one-run game, the Tar Heels could not stop the Yellow Jackets from going yard. Georgia Tech picked up three more runs from two straight homers in the top of the seventh, giving UNC yet another hole that it could not dig itself out of.
Who stood out?
Madej had a career day, going 2-3 with three RBIs and his first home run as a Tar Heel.
Zarate also performed well at the plate with two RBIs and a homer.
When was it decided?
Georgia Tech’s back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning was the final straw for UNC. Despite bringing the lead to one in the inning before, struggles from the mound doomed the Tar Heels like it had all game, and they could not recover from the deficit after that point.
Why does it matter?
This weekend series gives the Tar Heels a chance to get their ACC record over .500 and climb upwards in the ACC Coastal rankings. With this loss, UNC is currently sixth in its division.
Improving in ACC play won’t be easy against this Georgia Tech squad, as it possesses one of the top offenses in the conference. The Tar Heels will need much better and more consistent play from the mound to come away from this series with more wins and losses — because the Yellow Jackets can flat out score.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will be back in Chapel Hill to face Georgia Tech again on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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