After waiting out a one-day suspension due to weather, the North Carolina baseball team (26-17, 9-13 ACC) defeated the N.C. State Wolfpack (29-14, 11-10 ACC), 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Doak Field.
The Tar Heels stuck first behind the consistent bat of sophomore Alberto Osuna. With one out, Osuna’s fielder’s choice dribbler brought home sophomore Mac Horvath to give North Carolina the early 1-0 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Max Carlson’s perfect night on the mound came to an end in the third inning. After registering two early outs, first-year Tommy White laced a double down the left-field line to drive home the tying run.
In the following inning, North Carolina answered with a two-out rally of its own.
An error by N.C. State and a hit-by-pitch drawn by first-year Vance Honeycutt loaded the bases for lead-off hitter, junior Angel Zarate. However, Zarate’s struggles at the plate continued as an infield groundout left the Tar Heels empty-handed.
The game then went into a weather delay in the top of the fifth inning, and eventually was suspended to Saturday.
In the game restart, the Tar Heels put early pressure on the Wolfpack, loading the bases with one out. An infield error by N.C. State brought home one UNC run, giving North Carolina the one-point advantage.
The lead was short lived for the Tar Heels, as sophomore LuJames Groover III’s 2-RBI single gave N.C. State its first lead of the game.
But in the next inning, the Tar Heels responded.
Honeycutt sent a solo home run to right field, tying the game back up at three. Honeycutt’s blast ignited North Carolina’s offense, which went on to have a five-run inning, behind a three-run shot from sophomore Hunter Stokely.
Yet, N.C. State was able to chip away at UNC's lead thanks to multiple errors by the Tar Heels. A wild pitch and an error by junior infielder Johnny Castagnozzi helped the Wolfpack score three runs, bringing the score to 7-6.
NCSU’s rally wasn’t complete, though. In the bottom of the seventh inning, sophomore Noah Soles’s double ricocheted off the left field wall and scored the equalizing run.
Heading into the final inning, the two teams stood in a standstill, with pouring rain falling onto the field.
Then, Horvath stepped up, and his sacrifice fly to deep left field helped the Tar Heels regain the lead, 8-7. This proved to be the final run of the game, as North Carolina held on to its one-point lead.
Who stood out?
Stokely’s second home run of the season highlighted a momentum-shifting sixth inning for the Tar Heels. The Wilson, N.C. native’s dinger accounted for three of the five runs driven in by UNC during the top of the sixth.
Horvath also impressed, delivering a clutch sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and providing stout defense at third base, as he made numerous throws across the diamond for outs.
When was it decided?
It wasn’t until the ninth inning that the deciding run was scored. Horvath’s sacrifice fly helped drive in one run — a run that proved to be the difference maker.
Why does it matter?
The gritty win extends the Tar Heels’ win streak to three games, the team’s longest streak since March.
Moreover, it should provide the team with a much needed boost heading into the series’ final two games. If North Carolina can win at least one of its next two games, UNC will snap its five-series losing streak in conference play.
When do they play next?
North Carolina plays a double header against N.C State on Saturday, and Game 2 will begin at 4 p.m., barring inclement weather.