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Thursday August 11th

UNC baseball showcases new mentality in 7-4 win over Campbell

Sophomore second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi (19) sets up for the pitch during UNC's game against Campbell at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
Buy Photos Sophomore second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi (19) sets up for the pitch during UNC's game against Campbell at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

After losing three of its last four games at home, the North Carolina baseball team's 7-4 victory over Campbell on Tuesday got the Tar Heels back in the win column.

While much-improved pitching and continued solid hitting helped propel UNC to its victory over the Camels, the team hopes something that transcends the stat sheet will help them throughout the last third of the regular season — a new mentality and approach.

With a regular season that starts in the middle of February and runs through May, it’s easy for players and coaches to get caught up in the macroscopic view of the season and lose sight of the task at hand, which might have been the case when the Tar Heels lost to a struggling N.C. A&T team last Tuesday.

Head coach Scott Forbes saw his team and staff focusing more on the "what-if" scenarios and big-picture ideas instead of opponents at hand, and he addressed his concern by emphasizing the importance of focusing more on the present in a recent meeting with his team.

“The problem is, and we’re all guilty of it, you start looking down towards the end and the 'what-ifs,'” Forbes said. “Instead, you’re missing Campbell tonight at eight. So we’re really working on focusing on that, trying to make sure you don’t miss a moment because you don’t get that back.”

The Tar Heels’ new mentality was on full display against the Fighting Camels. Sophomore pitcher Davis Palermo, who typically only pitches the last one or two innings, pitched the final three innings against Campbell in his eighth appearance in the team's last nine games.

UNC also used five other pitchers against Campbell in addition to Palermo. Both the decision to keep Palermo on the mound and the way UNC used its bullpen demonstrated the Tar Heels’ new hyper-focused approach on the present.

“I think really, these past couple of days, we’ve tried to focus on a new season starts now, take every game individually,” Palermo said. “Don’t look ahead, don’t look at where we are in the standings, just focus on every single game individually.”

The results also indicated the Tar Heels’ were locked on the opponent at hand and not looking at the big picture. In recent outings against Georgia Tech, N.C. A&T and Louisville, the Tar Heels appeared to lose focus late, causing them to lose leads and games they were in position to win.

No such loss of focus happened against the Fighting Camels, as the Tar Heels held Campbell to zero runs and just one hit over the last two innings.

The performance is further validated by Campbell's resume thus far through the season. The team currently sits atop the Big South Conference with an 11-1 record in conference play and a 22-13 overall record, with signature wins against then No. 8 N.C. State and West Virginia.

With a weekend series on the road against ACC opponent Virginia on the horizon, the Tar Heels will continue with their new mentality and approach the series against the Cavaliers not as a weekend-long event, but as three individual games they have to win one at a time.

“We’ll just keep on competing, keeping on leaving all we’ve got on the field and just focusing on one game at a time and not looking ahead,” sophomore designated hitter Alberto Osuna said.  

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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