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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 18 Diamond Heels rout Charlotte, 16-3, in midweek victory on the road

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UNC Redshirt Freshman Infielder and Outfielder Casey Cook (16) runs to first base in the Feb. 28, 2023 game against ECU.

The No. 18 UNC baseball team (13-5) earned a midweek road victory Tuesday evening with a 16-3 victory over Charlotte (6-10).

What happened?

The 49ers took the early lead in the bottom of the first inning. After pitcher Kevin Eaise retired the first two batters, Charlotte hit back-to-back solo shots to right field. Eaise struck out the next batter to keep the deficit at two.

The Tar Heels answered back in a big way in the second frame. Redshift first-year Casey Cook started the rally with a lead-off single, and the Tar Heels worked the bases loaded with a hit-by-pitch and walk. Sophomore Vance Honeycutt brought them all home with a bang, smashing his first career grand slam into the trees in left-center field. 

The second-inning onslaught did not stop there. Junior Mac Horvath sneaked a double inside the right-field line, immediately stole third, and was brought in by a Jackson Van De Brake sacrifice fly. After another double by junior Tomas Frick, junior Alberto Osuna capped off the inning with a two-run no-doubter over the left-field wall. North Carolina ended the second up 7-2.

The Tar Heels expanded that lead in the third inning. Their first two batters worked their way on base, and Mac Horvath blew the doors open with a three-run blast into dead center. The 49ers left a runner on second base in the bottom of the inning, and UNC entered the fourth up 10-2.

The Tar Heels added another run in the sixth. Osuna continued his impressive game with a double into the gap in right center. An error by the shortstop advanced Osuna to third, and he scored on a fielder’s choice, inflating the Tar Heel lead to nine. 

Eaise retired the 49ers 1-2-3 in the sixth, and the UNC offense provided him with even more support in the seventh. With two runners in scoring position, Frick hit his second double of the evening to bring both runners home and raise the score to 13-2.

UNC added two more in the eighth. The Tar Heels managed the bases loaded to lead off the inning and walked home two runners to expand the lead further. In the bottom of the frame, the 49ers also had bases loaded with no outs, and a double play brought in a run for Charlotte.

The Tar Heels managed one final run in the ninth. With one out, junior Johnny Castagnozzi smashed a double into left center, and sophomore Reece Holbrook followed that with a double of his own. Junior pitcher Nelson Berkwich finished off the 49ers in order, completing the 16-3 UNC victory.

Who stood out? 

Eaise earned the win on the mound, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits. The 49ers struggled to hit him all night, striking out 8 times.

The entire UNC offense exploded to score 16 runs, its season-high in runs scored. Honeycutt, Horvath, and Osuna all hit home runs in the same game for the third time since the start of last season. Frick also shined, going 3-4 from the plate with 2 RBIs and 2 doubles.

When was it decided?

The game was over as early as the second inning. With the 49ers unable to assemble base runners on Eaise, the 7-2 deficit was too big to crawl back from. The Tar Heels scored in six different innings, adding to the lead all night.

Why does it matter?

After a series loss to No. 14 Virginia, UNC slipped to No. 18 in the rankings. With five games this week against teams at or below .500, the Tar Heels need to pick up as many wins as possible to stop the bleeding and rise back up the rankings.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to Boshamer Stadium to play another midweek game on Wednesday against High Point.

@brendan_lunga18

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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