The No. 8 seed North Carolina baseball team (38-19, 15-15 ACC) defeated the N.C. State Wolfpack (36-21, 14-15 ACC), 9-5, for the ACC Championship on Sunday.
In the top of the first inning, N.C. State came out swinging with its first run coming off of an RBI single from redshirt junior Josh Hood. Even with two players left on base, sophomore pitcher Max Carlson defended from the mound, forcing a double play to end any more scoring from the Wolfpack in this frame.
To start the bottom of the first inning for the Tar Heels, first-year Vance Honeycutt cranked a homer right out of the park. This bomb brought in two runs for North Carolina to give the Tar Heels an early one-point lead.
After a scoreless second inning for N.C. State, the flood gates finally opened for UNC. With bases loaded, redshirt junior outfielder Angel Zarate came in clutch with a single up the middle, bringing in two more runs, making the score 4-1.
Next up to bat was junior shortstop Danny Serretti, serving a double and adding another run to the board for North Carolina.
With his second two-homer game of the ACC Tournament, Honeycutt once again let the ball fly out of left field for a three-run home run, bringing the score to 8-1.
Stretching the Diamond Heels lead even more, Serretti was able to advance on a wild pitch in the fourth inning as sophomore third baseman Mac Horvath scampered across home plate.
In an attempt to fight back, a double by the Wolfpack in the top of the sixth inning brought their scoring total to three runs.
The score sat at 9-3 until the top of the ninth inning, when a single and double brought in two more runs for N.C. State. These runs resulted in a pitching change, as UNC subbed in sophomore Davis Palermo, just in time to face the Wolfpack’s Tommy White.
As White hit a grounder that Serretti converted to an out at second base, the Tar Heels were able get the last out needed to secure the conference title with a 9-5 win.
Who stood out?
It took a team effort for the Tar Heels to come this far in their ACC Championship run, but in Sunday’s game, Honeycutt particularly stands out for his accomplishments.
His early home runs lit the spark for UNC, and he became the first player in North Carolina baseball history to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season, as well as the the first Division I first-year to have a 20-20 season since 2011.
When was it decided?
Things looked bleak when the Wolfpack took an early lead in the first inning, but the six-run second inning is what gave UNC the upper hand to secure the victory and conference title for the Diamond Heels.
Why does it matter?
This win not only marks the Diamond Heels’ eighth ACC Championship title in program history, but the team’s 15th victory in the last 17 games.
With this ACC title, UNC is likely to be a host for the NCAA Regionals and have a higher seed for national competition starting June 3.
When do they play next?
On Monday, May 30, the field of 64 teams set to compete in the NCAA college baseball championship will be announced and regional competition will begin on June 3.