In the Tar Heels’ midweek game against Gardner-Webb, the North Carolina baseball team (28-18, 10-14 ACC) topped the Runnin’ Bulldogs (17-32, 7-11 Big South), 12-5, Tuesday evening at Boshamer Stadium.
After a scoreless first frame for the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, redshirt junior right fielder Angel Zarate led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. Later that inning, first-year center fielder Vance Honeycutt singled on a bunt and stole second. A single up the middle from sophomore designated hitter Alberto Osuna would score him, giving UNC an early 2-0 lead.
Honeycutt crossed the plate again in the bottom of the third inning, thanks to a bomb the Salisbury native knocked deep into right-center field. This, along with sophomore left-handed pitcher Shawn Rapp’s dominance on the mound, extended the Tar Heel lead to 3-0.
After Zarate walked to load the bases in the bottom of the fourth, a no-doubter from sophomore Mac Horvath sailed into right-center field to bring in four more runs for the Tar Heels. UNC tacked on another run as junior shortstop Danny Serretti singled and was scored thanks to a Honeycutt triple, bringing the score to 8-0.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs bounced back with three runs in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to a Humberto Torres homer and singles from Jacob Marcos and Curtis Robison. UNC responded swiftly in the bottom of the same inning with two runs, and tacked on yet another run in the following inning, making the score 10-3.
In the bottom of the sixth and the top of the seventh, each team traded runs to make the score 11-4. A wild pitch then scored Zarate in the bottom of the seventh, giving UNC an eight-run lead and bringing the score to 12-4.
Despite a sole run by Gardner-Webb in the top of the ninth, the Bulldogs weren't able to rally the offensive firepower needed to surmount UNC's lead, and the Tar Heels closed the game with a score of 12-5.
Who stood out?
Honeycutt, batting in the cleanup spot, continued his hot streak at the plate on Tuesday. After scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning, Honeycutt extended UNC’s lead with a solo blast in the bottom of the third — his third home run in the last four days. By his third at-bat, in which Honeycutt ripped a triple to center field, the first-year was 3-3 on the game. Honeycutt singled again in the bottom of the sixth, and finished the game with four hits and three runs.
The most notable hit of the night, however, came from the bat of Horvath, who blasted a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth. Scoring four runs, this critical hit put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.
When was it decided?
By Horvath’s grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning, the eventual outcome of Tuesday’s game was already clear. Despite a three-run effort by the Runnin’ Bulldogs in the following frame, in which Gardner-Webb pieced together four hits, UNC exited the inning with a five-run lead. Despite some back-and-forth action later in the game, the Bulldogs failed to cut into this established lead.
Why does it matter?
While this game’s outcome was certainly not a surprise to anyone, nor does it matter in the grand scheme of the season, Tuesday night was an opportunity for the Diamond Heels to see some competition ahead of their Wake Forest series this upcoming weekend.
Additionally, Tuesday’s game gave UNC some practice with its new batting lineup, which places Zarate in the leadoff position and Honeycutt in the cleanup spot, among other tweaks.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels will return to Boshamer Stadium on May 11 to take on Charleston Southern University at 6 p.m.