After the North Carolina baseball team’s season came to an end against Arkansas in the NCAA Super Regionals in early June, many Tar Heels turned their focus to their summer league assignments.
This year, UNC is represented across many summer leagues including the Cape Cod, Coastal Plain and Northwoods Leagues. Here, the Tar Heels will spend their summer gaining valuable reps in an effort to gear up for next year.
Here’s a look at a few players with impressive starts to their summer ball seasons.
Brandon Eike, Tri-City Chili Peppers
In his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, third baseman Brandon Eike saw limited action.
Eike has appeared in the batter’s box just 12 times at UNC and has yet to record a collegiate hit. Despite this, Eike is excelling this summer with the Tri-City Chili Peppers of the Coastal Plain League.
Through 26 games, the former three-time all-state honoree’s eight home runs serve as a league-best, earning Eike a starting spot on the CPL’s East All-Star team. Behind his powerful barrel and 20 RBIs, Tri-City boasts a 17-13 record.
Eike is on a home-run tear, skying blasts in three consecutive games in late June against the Morehead City Marlins, Wilson Tobs and Peninsula Pilots.
Dalton Pence, Forest City Owls
Coming out of high school, rising sophomore pitcher Dalton Pence was a highly-touted recruit in North Carolina’s 2021 class. Pence was tabbed the 10th overall recruit in the state of North Carolina by Prep Baseball Report, and the Cherryville, N.C. native hoped to earn a role in the Tar Heels’ bullpen.
However, Pence suffered an injury late in his senior year of high school, which required Tommy John surgery and prevented him from seeing any game action in his first year at UNC.
This summer, Pence has been nearly flawless on the mound for the Forest City Owls of the CPL. Through 29 innings of work, he’s posted a 0.93 ERA, earning Pence the starting job for the CPL’s West All-Star squad.
Eric Grintz, High Point-Thomasville HiToms
In three seasons, rising junior catcher Eric Grintz’s bat has been as consistent as anyone rostered by North Carolina, as Grintz has posted multiple seasons with batting averages above .300. However, due to defensive struggles and the emergence of rising junior catcher Tomas Frick behind the plate, Grintz has struggled to maintain a consistent spot in UNC’s starting lineup.
Despite this, Grintz has displayed his offensive game this summer with the High Point-Thomasville HiToms. Through his first seven contests with the HiToms, Grintz has cannoned two bombs, tallied 13 RBIs and currently posts a .481 batting average.
His grand slam in the first inning against the Martinsville Mustangs on July 1 catapulted High Point-Thomasville to a 9-5 win.
Dylan King, La Crosse Loggers
Alongside Colby Wilkerson, rising sophomore Dylan King rounds out the lone Tar Heels competing in the Northwoods League.
Playing behind Frick, Grintz and rising redshirt senior Max Riemer, the first-year catcher didn’t see a single at-bat this season for UNC.
King’s summer league season provided the Delray Beach, Fla. native with much-needed appearances at the plate. Through his first 10 games, King capitalized on his chances in the batter’s box, posting a .273 batting average and blasting one home run.
King’s three RBIs in his first game with the Loggers aided La Crosse’s dominant 19-3 victory over the Minnesota Mud Puppies.