The No. 8 seed UNC baseball team (36-19, 15-15 ACC) upset top-seeded Virginia Tech (41-12, 19-9 ACC), 10-0, on Friday night to advance to the ACC Championship semifinals.
The Diamond Heels got a hot start in the top of the first inning after redshirt junior Angel Zarate and sophomore third baseman Mac Horvath recorded back-to-back hits to begin the game. After a sacrifice fly from junior shortstop Danny Serretti scored Zarate to put the first run on the board, first-year center fielder Vance Honeycutt blasted a two-run bomb to right center, bringing the score to 3-0. Yet another run was tacked on as senior left fielder Mikey Madej singled through the right side and stole second, and was scored by a base hit from sophomore catcher Tomas Frick. The Tar Heels exited the first frame with a 4-0 lead.
After a three-up, three-down frame in the bottom of the first inning, the top of the second inning saw UNC add two more runs to its tally. Thanks to home runs from Zarate and Honeycutt, the Diamond Heels extended their early lead over the Hokies to 6-0.
A single from Virginia Tech’s Jack Hurley began the bottom of the second inning. However, UNC quickly ended the Hokies’ chance at tacking on a run with a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the frame.
In the top of the fourth inning, Serretti knocked an oppo home run to left field to bring the Diamond Heels out to a 7-0 lead. His bomb marked the fourth homer for the Tar Heels in just four innings.
After two scoreless innings for both teams, UNC extended its lead by two more runs as Honeycutt scored on an error and Frick drove an RBI double to center field.
UNC’s final run came in the top of the ninth inning, as sophomore first baseman Hunter Stokely doubled to score Madej, who walked to start the inning. This brought the final score to 10-0.
Who stood out?
Junior left-handed pitcher Brandon Schaeffer had an incredible performance on the mound on Friday night, pitching all nine innings and recording six strikeouts. He held the No. 2 Hokies to no runs with an efficient 11.3 pitch per inning average.
Offensively, Honeycutt was a standout, leading the team in hits with three in Friday’s game. His back-to-back home runs in the first and second innings gave UNC much-needed early momentum, and also set a new home run record for UNC first-years with 19 on the season.
When was it decided?
After accruing a 6-0 lead after two innings, UNC had a solid grasp on Friday’s pool game.
Virginia Tech’s best look at surmounting a comeback came in the bottom of the sixth inning, in which the Hokies recorded back-to-back singles. However, a timely groundout immediately after this short string of hits ended this effort, and killed any offensive momentum Virginia Tech had generated late in the game.
Why does it matter?
Friday’s upset win over the top-seeded Hokies not only advances UNC to the ACC Championship semifinals, but delivers the Diamond Heels a decisive win over highly-ranked competition.
UNC’s shutout win against the Hokies will give the team plenty of momentum heading into the rest of the ACC Championship, and should boost the Tar Heels’ seeding in the NCAA College World Series.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels will take on Notre Dame on Saturday, May 28 in the first of two ACC Championship semifinal games. The matchup is set to start at 1 p.m.