The No. 14 North Carolina baseball team (12-5, 1-2 ACC) pitched a shutout in game three of the weekend series against No. 17 Virginia (14-1, 2-1 ACC), defeating the Cavaliers 6-0 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Despite Virginia getting two runners on in the top of the first after two walks, North Carolina junior pitcher Jake Knapp was able to escape the inning with a strikeout to keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the frame, sophomore outfielder Vance Honeycutt was walked, but the next three Tar Heel batters all flew out to end the inning.
The game remained scoreless through the fourth inning, with both teams struggling to find their offensive strides. In the top of the fifth, with one out and runners at first and second, UNC junior pitcher Matt Poston replaced Knapp.
Poston was able to get out of the inning after a runner was caught stealing third, and then redshirt first-year right fielder Casey Cook robbed a UVA home run, catching the ball with his hand after it popped out of his glove.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Heels notched the first run of the game off the bat of Honeycutt, who drove in Cook with a single to left field. The Heels added another in the next at bat, as junior third baseman Mac Horvath singled through left, driving in junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson.
The Tar Heels scored another run in the bottom of the sixth inning as junior Johnny Castagnozzi grounded into a double play, bringing in junior catcher Tomas Frick from third to take a 3-0 lead. Virginia advanced runners to second and third with two outs in the top of the seventh, but a Poston strikeout kept the Cavaliers off the board.
A two-run blast to left field from Horvath in the bottom of the seventh inning put the Diamond Heels up 5-0. After Virginia was blanked again in the top of the eighth, North Carolina added another run with Castagnozzi’s solo shot to left.
The Heels’ were able to keep Virginia off the board in the ninth to preserve the shutout, despite UVA having two runners on.
Who stood out?
The North Carolina pitching staff had one of its best outings of the season, giving up just five hits while posting a shutout.
On the offensive side, Horvath and Castagnozzi led the way for UNC. Horvath went 2-4 with a two-run homer, while Castagnozzi hit a solo home run.
When was it decided?
After a scoreless first four innings, the Tar Heels finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning with Horvath’s RBI that put North Carolina in control. The Diamond Heels added to their lead in each of the next three innings. Meanwhile, the UVA offense never found its rhythm, as the North Carolina pitching staff held them to zero runs.
Why does it matter?
The win helped the Diamond Heels avoid being swept by Virginia after they lost the first two games of the series. This is the first win against a top-25 team for North Carolina this season.
With ACC play ramping up, the win displays the Tar Heels’ ability to compete with the top teams in the conference – even without the typical offensive production that the Heels have become accustomed to.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels hit the road to take on Charlotte on Tuesday. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m.
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