The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 7th

Max Carlson earns first win of the 2023 season in No. 15 UNC baseball's 6-3 win over Duke

Junior pitcher Max Carlson (35) throws the ball during the baseball game against Stony Brook on Friday, March 13, 2023, at Boshamer Stadium. UNC beat Stony Brook 3-2.
Buy Photos Junior pitcher Max Carlson (35) throws the ball during the baseball game against Stony Brook on Friday, March 13, 2023, at Boshamer Stadium. UNC beat Stony Brook 3-2.

The No. 15 UNC baseball team (17-5, 3-2 ACC) defeated Duke (14-8, 3-4 ACC), 6-3, in the first game of the series on Thursday night.

What happened?

The Tar Heels started the top of the first inning off strong by forcing two consecutive outs off of Duke pop flies. Just a few pitches later, Duke capitalized off their man on second and sent the ball into left field for a two-run homer. Nothing was going for UNC in the bottom of the first as they earned their three outs quickly and finished the inning trailing 0-2. The Tar Heels forced an early out in the top of the second inning, but the Blue Devils sent yet another ball in the left outfield allowing a Duke runner to stroll home and earn a 3-0 lead. The Tar Heels came out swinging in the bottom of the second as two consecutive walks and a Duke error led to fully loaded bases. Junior infielder Colby Wilkerson hit the ball deep into the outfield allowing all three Tar Heels to make it to home plate to tie the game. The second inning ended knotted at three.

The third inning began with a statement for UNC as it forced three quick outs. Duke did the same in the bottom of the third and the inning ended scoreless with both teams tied at three. A dragged-out top of the fourth ended with three Duke outs. North Carolina began to show dominance in the bottom of the fourth as two runners got to first and second with no outs. Junior infielder Mac Horvath sent the ball flying into the left outfield and over the wall to send three runners home and give the Tar Heels a three-run advantage. The rest of the inning was unsuccessful for UNC and the Tar Heels led 6-3 after four innings.

The Blue Devils were forced to their third straight scoreless inning in the top of the fifth which gave the Tar Heels another chance to expand their lead. A home-run reversal plagued the Tar Heels in the bottom of the fifth, causing a completely scoreless inning and a 6-3 score heading into the sixth inning. Once again, the Blue Devils could not convert in the top of the sixth. The Tar Heels got two runners on the bases but the sixth inning ended scoreless for both squads.

Duke continued their scoring drought in the top of the seventh as the Blue Devils could not make it on the bases. UNC was unable to find home plate in the seventh inning as well, making it the third consecutive scoreless inning for both teams. After getting two runners on the bases, the Blue Devils finished the top of the eighth empty-handed. The Tar Heels had the same result, ultimately causing a fourth straight scoreless inning.

The final inning began with a Duke out, which was proven to be an indication of the rest of the game. The Tar Heels forced three outs for the Blue Devils to secure the victory.

Who stood out?

Horvath and Wilkerson combined for six RBIs. Junior first baseman Hunter Stokely finished with two runs and a double. Junior infielder Jackson Van De Brake went three-for-three at the plate, including two doubles.

When was it decided?

After Horvath's home run in the fourth inning, consistent and efficient pitching and late scoreless innings from the Blue Devils made it easy for the Tar Heels to cruise to the first win of the series.

Why does it matter?

This win is a good sign for North Carolina as it looks to sweep the series against its Tobacco Road rival. The demonstrated consistent pitching is a reassuring sign that the Tar Heels will continue to be a top competitor in the ACC as the season persists.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to the field tomorrow as they face Duke in the second of three meetings this week. The first pitch will take place at 6 p.m. inside Boshamer Stadium.


@dthsports |

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