The North Carolina baseball team (25-17, 8-13 ACC) defeated Charlotte (28-17, 11-10 C-USA), 4-3, in walk-off fashion at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday evening.
UNC junior pitcher Brandon Schaeffer tossed two strikeouts to hold the 49ers to a hitless first inning. After redshirt junior outfielder Angel Zarate lined out to first base, sophomore infielder Mac Horvath wasted no time in getting the Diamond Heels on the board with a homer.
The 49ers responded with two runs in the second inning. Charlotte infielder Josh Madole lined a double, followed by first baseman Will Butcher blasting a homer to left field.
North Carolina equalized the score in the bottom of the third inning when Horvath hit another bomb to center field, making Tuesday's game his first career game with multiple home runs. The fourth inning was scoreless, with the only advancement coming from Charlotte’s Cam Fisher on a wild pitch.
The Diamond Heels managed to earn one run in the bottom of the fifth, but then Stokely struck out swinging to end the inning with the bases loaded. A homer from Fisher put the 49ers up 3-2 in the top of the sixth, but a controversy between the umpires and Charlotte head coach Robert Woodward led to Woodward being ejected from the game. In what would’ve resulted with the bases being fully loaded for Charlotte, two 49ers were instead called out due to interference.
An inability to convert RBIs persisted for the Diamond Heels when they registered two hits in the bottom of the sixth but were held scoreless with bases loaded. A scoreless final three innings from both teams had the game tied at three runs apiece. The 49ers only managed one hit at the top of the 10th inning.
Then, Tomas Frick happened.
The UNC sophomore catcher blasted a double to left center field, with first-year outfielder Reece Holbrook pinch running for Johnny Castagnozzi. Holbrook raced around the bases, sliding into home just before the ball reached the catchers’ mitt.
Who stood out?
Frick hit the game-winning double, and before that, Horvath kept the Diamond Heels in the game early on with his two homers.
Additionally, Schaeffer and sophomore righty pitcher Davis Palermo pitched a combined 4.3 innings, totaling 53 strikes on 84 pitches. Palermo did not allow any hits.
When was it decided?
The teams slowly chipped away at each other but slowed down in the final three innings. The game wasn’t decided until Frick’s RBI in the bottom of the 10th inning.
North Carolina had numerous innings throughout the game that ended with two or three Tar Heels left on base, but the team ultimately could not capitalize, allowing the 49ers to force an extra inning.
Why does it matter?
UNC has not won consecutive games since Mar. 20. A strong start to the season was followed by a slippery slope down the ACC rankings, including a 2-8 stretch.
The win may serve as a spark of momentum for the Diamond Heels — something they’ll need on the road against No. 26 N.C. State this weekend.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels will travel to Raleigh, N.C. this weekend for an in-state, ACC showdown against N.C. State. The first pitch of the three-game series is on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
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