The North Carolina baseball team (22-13, 8-9) made significant improvements in a 10-5 bounce back win against Georgia Tech (22-14, 8-9) on Saturday.
UNC once again opened the game on their heels in the first inning. After a single and two straight batters hit by junior pitcher Brandon Schaeffer’s pitches, bases were loaded. The Tar Heels held it together, though, as Georgia Tech’s only run of the inning came in from a sac fly.
It didn’t take long for UNC to get the run back as two straight singles by sophomores Alberto Osuna and Johnny Castagnozzi in the first inning brought junior shortstop Danny Serretti home.
After a scoreless second inning, the Tar Heels started to build a lead in the bottom of the third. Sophomore infielder Mac Horvath got himself on base with a single to left field, and he was brought home by a Serretti triple. Osuna followed with another single to third base, bringing Serretti around for a 3-1 lead.
Then, Castagnozzi doubled deep to right field to put himself and Osuna in scoring position with zero outs. Senior outfielder Mikey Madej brought another run home with a sac fly, and sophomore first baseman Hunter Stokely singled for his first RBI of the game.
Down 5-1, Georgia Tech made a small run in the top of the fourth inning — capitalizing off a walk and a couple of singles to bring the lead down to two.
A solo home run by Horvath in the bottom of the fourth quickly brought the UNC lead back to three runs. Serretti immediately followed with a triple to right field, and Castagnozzi batted him in for the second time of the day.
The score remained 7-3 until the sixth inning, when Georgia Tech’s Tim Borden II hit a solo homer to center field.
First-year centerfielder Vance Honeycutt responded with his own solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to re-establish the Tar Heels’ four-run lead. Shortly after, redshirt junior outfielder Angel Zarate and Serretti both singled — and with Zarate and Serretti in scoring position, Castagnozzi was walked for loaded bases. Madej singled to right field to bring Zarate and Serretti home for a 10-4 lead.
Georgia Tech was unable to overcome the deficit, resulting in a 10-5 UNC victory.
Who stood out?
Castagnozzi significantly improved from game one’s 0-5 performance, going 3-4 with two RBIs and a double on Saturday.
Serretti came close to completing a cycle, going 3-4 with a double and a triple.
On the defensive end, sophomore pitcher Nik Pry made a huge improvement from Friday’s game for the UNC pitching staff with five strikeouts and only one earned run.
When was it decided?
With the game still in reach for Georgia Tech entering the seventh inning, UNC held the Yellow Jackets to zero runs and extended their lead in the bottom of the inning to six runs — putting the game away for the day.
Why does it matter?
This is the Tar Heels’ eighth ACC win of the season and snaps their four-game losing streak.
When compared to game one’s pitching performance, this win was a major step up. UNC played complementary baseball — matching the defensive success with the exceptional hitting the team has displayed all weekend long. There was also more consistency from the mound as only three pitchers were put to work.
This game may instill some much needed confidence in the pitchers as UNC looks to close out the weekend with a series-clinching win.
When do they play next?
UNC will finish the series against Georgia Tech Sunday at 1 p.m.
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