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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 15 Diamond Heels defeat North Carolina A&T, 6-4, in midweek matchup

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UNC sophomore Vance Honeycutt (7) arrives at first base during the baseball game against North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at Boshamer Stadium. UNC beat North Carolina A&T 6-4.

Behind a team pitching effort, the No. 15 North Carolina baseball team (16-5) beat the North Carolina A&T Aggies (10-10), 6-4, on Tuesday evening at Boshamer Stadium.

What happened?

Faced with a two out bases loaded situation starting pitcher Jake Knapp gave up a single to left center field allowing two runs to score giving the Aggies a lead that would escape them once Alberto Osuna stepped up to bat. Knapp was the first of seven Tar Heel pitchers to see the mound during the course of the game. 

It did not take long for the bats of the Tar Heels to heat up as leadoff hitter, junior Vance Honeycutt, smashed a solo homer over the right field fence. DH Alberto Osuna would follow Honeycutt’s lead by hitting a two run rocket over the right center fence driving in catcher Tomas Frick who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. 

The scoring mojo from the previous inning did not transfer over as the Tar Heels recorded a scoreless second frame. Junior Hunter Stokely walked, Honeycutt reached first on a fielder’s choice, Mac Horvath singled to center, and Jackson Van De Brake walked to bring up bases loaded. The Heels were unable to capitalize however as Frick hit into a fielder’s choice leaving three men stranded.   

Stokely hit his fourth homer of the season–and fourth of the game–in the third driving in Cook, who had walked, increasing the Tar Heel lead over the Aggies. 

A&T roared their head in the top of the fourth when second baseman Tre Williams homered off pitcher Will Sandy to right field. 

UNC attempted to get the offensive train back on the rails in the sixth as Stokely and Wilkerson recorded singles but Horvath flew out to right field, ending the inning. 

Both teams remained silent from the fifth until the eighth inning when Aggie Tre Williams doubled, off UNC pitcher Ben Peterson, to right field, scoring one and bringing A&T within one run of the Heels.  

Victory was spelled for the Heels in the eighth as Stokely hit an RBI fielder's choice that brought in Cook who had singled previously, giving the Aggies a two run deficit they were unable to make up in the final frame. 

Matt Poston would earn the save for the Heels, recording the final three outs and taking away whatever hope of a comeback the Aggies had going into the ninth. 

Who stood out?

Honeycutt continued to show his stout ability at the plate as the preseason All American went 2-for-5 with one RBI and a homer. 

First baseman Hunter Stokely also showed his offensive capabilities as the junior went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a homer over the course of his first start since the Virgina series. 

When was it decided?

The Diamond Heels took the lead in the first behind homers from Vance Honeycutt and Alberto Osuna. From there they held onto it – albeit sometimes by a single run – for the entirety of the game. 

Why does it matter?

The Heels hope to play their second full ACC series this weekend facing off against the rival Duke Blue Devils, after their final two games against the Pitt Panthers were canceled due to inclement snowy weather. 

Coming into today’s game, UNC was tied with the Miami Hurricanes for the most homers in the ACC, a number they increased to 48 as the Tar Heels keep swinging for the fences. In the Diamond Heels’ previous three games they racked up 16 runs plus each game in their dominant offensive trend and hope to take that firepower and today’s three rockets into the Duke series. 

When do they play next?

The Diamond Heels will resume ACC play against Duke on Thursday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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@gracegnugent

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com