No. 7 seed UNC may have started their first game in the ACC Tournament late, but they finished right on time and victoriously against the No. 11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Tuesday afternoon with an 11-5 win.
A lead-off single was hit off the bat of Georgia Tech’s Kristian Campbell and rushed past UNC junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake, immediately putting a hit on the board for Georgia Tech. This hit momentarily allowed Georgia Tech to occupy first base, but UNC quickly cleaned up their fielding and answered with a double play, stunting Georgia Tech’s advancement in the top of the first.
North Carolina made their mark offensively in the bottom half of that inning, picking up momentum with three runs scored. This included a line-drive double to left field by junior first baseman Hunter Stokely, which advanced runners around the diamond and put the Tar Heels in an optimal scoring position.
After adding a run in the bottom of the third inning to take a 4-0 lead, the Tar Heels left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth after Van De Brake hit a grounder straight to Georgia Tech junior Jadyn Jackson, and a double play concluded the inning.
In the fifth inning, Jackson Finley crossed the plate, putting up Georgia Tech's first run on the scoreboard following back-to-back hits that got past the North Carolina infield. Two runners left on base anticipated an opportunity that never came as UNC worked efficiently to finish the inning with no more runs scored.
North Carolina dominated on the mound for the first couple of innings, but Georgia Tech was just as skilled in pitching by the end, with nine strikeouts compared to the Tar Heels’ 10.
Even though Georgia Tech put up four more runs throughout the game, the Tar Heels were not finished scoring and continued their offensive explosion by putting up eight more runs, including a home run by junior outfielder Mac Horvath.
A final strikeout by UNC junior pitcher Matt Poston sealed the winner of the game, with the Tar Heels taking an 11-5 win at the Durham Bulls Stadium.
Who stood out?
Whether on the field or at the plate, Van De Brake stood out this game by making timely hits that advanced the Tar Heels' baserunners, as well as making plays at second base that closed out innings quickly. He arguably made the game's biggest hit which moved two runners, extending the Tar Heel lead to four.
When was it decided?
A home run by Georgia Tech junior John Geisler started what seemed like a competitive turn for the Yellow Jackets, but just as the score gap began to close, the Tar Heels scored three more runs. After a wild pitch by Georgia Tech sophomore Terry Busse which allowed a UNC run, a hit to center field by Van De Brake allowed the Tar Heels to go up by five, and the chances that Georgia Tech could change their fate faded.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina’s standing in the ACC tournament depends on its record within its pool, which includes Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Since the Tar Heels have already beaten out one of their opponents in the pool, they have increased their chances of securing a spot in the semifinals this Saturday. A win against the No. 2 seed Virginia would see the Diamond Heels advance to the semifinals.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels play again on Thursday at the Durham Bulls Stadium in a match-up against No. 2 seed Virginia. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m.
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