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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 15 Diamond Heels drop game two against Duke to even up home rivalry series

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UNC junior Johnny Castagnozzi catches a pop-up during the baseball game against Duke at Boshamer Stadium on Friday, March 24, 2023. UNC fell to Duke 8-5.

Plagued with consistency issues, the No. 15 North Carolina baseball team (17-6, 3-3 ACC) lost to the Duke (15-8, 4-4 ACC), 8-5, on Friday night at Boshamer Stadium.

What happened?

Junior Tomas Frick got the Tar Heels on the board in the first inning as he snuck a ground ball between the Blue Devil shortstop and second baseman to send junior Mac Horvath home.

Both Tobacco Road teams stayed dormant for the next three innings with UNC starter Connor Bovair spewing four innings of three up, three down.

The Blue Devils took the reins when catcher Chad Knight singled to center field and advanced to third on a Vance Honeycutt fielding error. Damon Lux singled to score Knight, bringing the Blue Devils level to the Tar Heels. Tyler Albright then singled to right, giving Duke men on first and second. singled to right giving Duke men on first and second. Giovanni DiGiacomo singled to right field, scoring one run for the Blue Devils, giving them a one run advantage over the home Heels. 

Duke increased their lead over the Tar Heels in the top of the sixth when first-year Andrew Fischer hit a solo shot to right field. 

The Heels took charge in the sixth, as Frick drew a walk and Osuna was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, junior Johnny Castagnozzi hit a double down the left field line right past the outstretched glove of the Duke third baseman. Thanks to the bat of Castagnozzi, Osuna and Frick scored. In rowdy fashion UNC plated two more runs in the frame as Cook and Castagnozzi stole home on a passed ball and wild pitch, respectively. 

Coach Scott Forbes relied on the bullpen in the seventh as pitchers Ben Peterson, Nelson Berkwich and Matthew Matthijs all saw the mound. Berkwich and Matthijs each served up one out, with Matthijs ending the frame on an electric slider, ridding the Heels of their bases-loaded jam. 

Duke showed their mettle in the eighth, notching four runs propelled by a three-run homer from Alex Mooney, a hit that put the nails in the coffin for the Heels. 

Who stood out?

Junior Johnny Castagnozzi went 4-for-1 with two RBIs and a double. While Castagnozzi induced a double play during the fifth frame, he found redemption in the following inning with an RBI double. 

Connor Bovair showed command on the mound through five innings, surrendering three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and allowing no hits in his first four frames. 

When was it decided?

The top of the eighth spelled trouble for the Tar Heels as the Blue Devils plated four runs, a deficit the Heels would fail to make up in their final two innings. 

Why does it matter?

Much like the second game against Virginia, a combination of costly defensive errors and an inability to get hits and plate runs with men on base crippled UNC. Forbes leaned on his bullpen following the exit of starter Boviar, as six different Heels pitchers tried to find outs and shut down the Duke offense. Both errors in consistency the Heels will look to address as ACC play continues. 

When do they play next?

The Diamond Heels will conclude the baseball edition of the Tobacco Road Rivalry Friday at Boshamer Stadium. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

@gracegnugent

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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