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Thursday June 8th

Diamond Heels narrowly escape upset against Stony Brook in Friday night matchup

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.

After a scrappy 11-inning performance, the Diamond Heels (7-3) narrowly escaped an upset, defeating Stony Brook 3-2. 

What happened?

Junior right-hander Max Carlson earned the start for the Diamond Heels Friday. Despite a lead-off single, a pick-off at third base by junior catcher Tomas Frick highlighted a scoreless first for the Tar Heels defensively. 

Consecutive one-out walks to junior third baseman Mac Horvath and junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake signaled early command issues for Stony Brook starter Jared Bellissimo. However, UNC came up empty, stranding runners on first and second in the bottom of the first inning. 

Carlson then silenced the seawolves' bats, manufacturing a one-two-three second with a pair of strikeouts.

Welcomed by a roar of applause, junior first baseman Johnny Castagnozzi made his season debut at the plate for the Diamond Heels following a shoulder injury. North Carolina induced hard contact, including a single by junior right-fielder Patrick Alvarez, but did not put runs on the board in the second.

Max Carlson continued his strong outing with a three up, three down third frame. Frick contributed defensively with a strong throw to deny a bunt-hit for Stony Brook.

UNC broke through offensively in the bottom of the fourth inning, as junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson knocked in junior designated-hitter Alberto Osuna with a liner over Stony Brook’s shortstop. North Carolina showed exceptional discipline at the plate backing up the 1-0 score.

After conceding his first walk and back-to-back hits, Carlson navigated through adversity in the fifth, escaping a bases loaded jam and preserving UNC’s 1-run advantage. 

Bellissimo concluded his start after 110 pitches in the fifth inning. Stony Brook left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring made an acrobatic grab in left, robbing Eric Grintz of an RBI. 

North Carolina’s shutout was broken in the sixth with a solo shot to right by Brown-Eiring, knotting up the contest 1-1. 

UNC threatened in the bottom of the sixth with an Alvarez single and Wilkerson hit-by-pitch, but S.B.U. reliever Josh O’Neill recorded back to back punchouts to maintain the tie.

After the stretch, Tomas Frick recorded his fourth home run of the season with a 402-ft solo shot off the Boshamer scoreboard. O’Neill handled the rest of the order, exiting the mound behind a 2-1 Tar Heel lead. 

Carlson’s eighth inning dominance was cut short after a left field blast by junior Evan Fox. Transfer RHP Ben Peterson took over, limiting the damage to a single run and 2-2 score.

Despite a two-out error by Stony Brook’s third baseman, North Carolina’s struggles with runners on base continued, ultimately hitting 1-17 in the contest. 

Peterson set the table for the Diamond Heel offense by locking down Stony Brook’s clean-up-hitting core in order. However, the Tar Heels’ ninth-inning hopes were dashed at the warning track, sending the game into extra innings.

The Diamond Heels walked it off in the bottom of the 11th. Red-hot Mac Horvath ambushed the first pitch, sending it beyond the fence for a 3-2 final score. 

Who stood out?

Max Carlson’s 7.1 inning quality start, the longest of his career, was crucial for the Diamond Heels’ success. The ace finished his outing recording seven strikeouts, two walks, and five hits on 103 pitches. 

Mac Horvath’s late game heroics propelled UNC to victory with his sixth homer in 10 games. Last season, it took him 33 games to eclipse that same mark. 

When was it decided?

Despite a pitcher’s duel, the Diamond Heels clinched the win in the 11th inning with a 388 ft homer by Mac Horvath. 

Why does it matter?

Following consecutive one-run losses against ECU, the 14th-ranked Diamond Heels rebounded with a sweep of VCU. North Carolina looks to ride that momentum coming into the weekend series against a struggling Stony Brook team.

When do they play next?

The Diamond Heels will host game two versus Stony Brook on Saturday, March 4th at 2 p.m.


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