The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday August 9th

UNC baseball drops its second game of the series to No. 11 Virginia, 11-7

UNC junior outfielder Angel Zarate (40) bats during a home game at Boshamer Stadium against Appalachian State on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
Buy Photos UNC junior outfielder Angel Zarate (40) bats during a home game at Boshamer Stadium against Appalachian State on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

In walk-off fashion, the North Carolina baseball team (23-16, 8-12 ACC) fell to the No. 11 Virginia Cavaliers (30-10, 12-8 ACC), 11-7, Saturday afternoon at Disharoon Park.

What happened?

A lead-off single by junior Angel Zarate got the gears grinding early for the Diamond Heels’ offense. After a single by sophomore Mac Horvath, a Cavalier error helped bring home the game's first run. 

In the bottom of the second inning, UNC put itself in great position to increase its lead with the bases loaded, but an infield fly-out and a double play left North Carolina empty handed. 

Junior pitcher Brandon Schaeffer was pitching a near perfect game heading into the fourth inning, having retired eight straight Virginia batters. But, a two-out home run by sophomore Jake Gelof knotted the game up, 1-1. 

As UVA’s offense came to life, North Carolina’s bats continued to struggle against Virginia pitcher Brian Gursky. In the sixth inning, the graduate student from California recorded his ninth strikeout of the game, tying a season-high mark for strikeouts in a single game.

Yet, the Diamond Heels responded. 

With two outs, consecutive batters were hit by pitch, juicing the bases for UNC with lead-off hitter Zarate up to bat. A wild pitch by Gursky resulted in North Carolina retaking the lead, but that would be the only run scored by North Carolina in the top half of the sixth.

But the lead was short lived, as Gelof once again wreaked havoc on North Carolina. His RBI-single sailed through the middle gap and helped the Cavaliers tie the game back up at two. 

However, the Wahoos weren’t finished. Junior Chris Newell’s single splashed into shallow right field and gave Virginia its first lead of the game, 3-2. 

The next inning, North Carolina found themselves in familiar territory with bases loaded yet again – this time with one out. And, sophomore Hunter Stokely’s infield single put the contest in a gridlock for the third time. 

Gelof’s bat once again delivered for Virginia, as his single in the proceeding inning helped score his team its fourth run of the game. 

With UNC down to its last three outs, and trailing by one, sophomore Alberto Osuna delivered. The slugger notched his thirteenth home run of the year with a solo moonshot that flew over the left-field clubhouse and sent the game to extra innings. The late game heroics weren’t enough for North Carolina, though. 

After scoring three runs in the top of the tenth inning, the Diamond Heels were unable to close out the Cavaliers. Graduate student Devin Ortiz’s walk-off grand slam floated down the left-field line, and gave the Wahoos the 11-7 win.

Who stood out? 

Zarate’s batting and heady base running helped the Tar Heels strike first. The junior outfielder scampered home in the opening inning after the Cavalier’s catcher committed an error. 

Horvath also excelled for North Carolina. His double in the top of the tenth drifted between the right field gap and helped the Diamond Heels reclaim the lead momentarily in the final inning.

When was it decided?

For the entire game, the Diamond Heels and Wahoos went blow-for-blow, with neither team being able to capture a sizable lead. But it was Ortiz’s grand slam in the tenth inning that clinched the victory for the home team. 

Why does it matter?

The loss prolongs the Diamond Heels’ struggles that have really ramped up in the latter half of the season.

Moreover, in a game where UNC had the bases loaded numerous times, North Carolina’s inability to drive in multiple runs during opportunistic chances kept the Cavaliers in the game. In order for the Diamond Heels to turn its season around, they’ll need to capitalize on chances with runners in scoring position at a more efficient rate. 

When do they play next?

North Carolina will conclude its series against Virginia on Sunday, Apr. 24 at 2 p.m.

@evanr0gers

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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