Through the first two weeks of the baseball season, there has been a power surge in Chapel Hill.
For the first time since 1999, the Diamond Heels have crushed 17 home runs in nine outings. Eight of those homers came on Tuesday and Wednesday in North Carolina's sweep over VCU.
In stark contrast to the team's previous series against ECU, when the bullpen collapsed and the Tar Heels left numerous runners on base, North Carolina relied on its power to push past the Rams in convincing fashion.
Juniors Tomas Frick and Jackson Van De Brake each came through with a multi-homer game in the series.
To Frick, calming down and being in the “best shape of his life” is what has helped him find success at the plate.
“I'm a high-energy guy. I kind of get really amped up,” Frick said. “So, going into the box, I'm really not thinking about much. Just make sure I stay doing my routine over and over and it just kind of calms me down.”
When Frick steps up to bat, he is not thinking of swinging for the fences or reaching certain power numbers.
“Once I get that pitch I just kind of react and let my hands work,” Frick said. “It [hitting homers] doesn't surprise me, I mean, I've always had that just kind of power, I just hadn’t untapped it now.”
After hitting just one homer in his two-year stint at Tacoma Community College, Van De Brake has erupted in his first season with the Tar Heels. With two homers in UNC's 14-10 win on Wednesday, he's already surprised many with his new approach at the plate.
“I’ve been getting texts from my old teammates every day right now, ‘Dude you already passed up your whole career,’” Van De Brake said. “But, I mean, I've stayed patient. I’m just putting quality swings on balls.”
Head coach Scott Forbes headed into the VCU series with a goal of cashing in with runners on base. UNC took his words to heart, with multiple three-run homers throughout the lineup.
The first VCU game featured homers from Frick, Vance Honeycutt, Mac Horvath and Alberto Osuna, which led to all but one of the runs scored in Tuesday's contest.
“Frick's huge swing of the bat and then Horvath with two outs, that was a dagger for them (VCU),” Forbes said.
Wednesday had a similar showing of firepower with Honeycutt going deep once again, along with Van De Brake’s two blasts.
Osuna, who has struggled early in the year after having hand surgery in January, notched his first three hits of the season. After 13 fruitless at bat, Osuna broke through with a homer in the second inning on Tuesday.
“I'm like, okay, he's gonna be one of our top five hitters,” Forbes said. “I don't care what his numbers look like right now. He tells me feels great. So I need to get him in there.”
On top of multiple home runs, Wednesday’s game saw the bottom of the lineup hitters capture 10 of the team’s 13 RBIs.
Now 6-3 on the season, the Tar Heels know they will need contributions throughout the lineup to build on the hot hitting they have established thus far.
“We all know at some point the bottom of the order is going to win games,” Osuna said. “The top of the order is going to win games and whenever we all put it together like that’s when we’re like especially dangerous, but the whole team has to win.”
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