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Diamond Heels fall to No. 3 seed Clemson in ACC tournament semifinals 10-4

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Junior catcher Tomas Frick watches an at-bat against the University of Virginia on Thursday, May 25, 2023. The Diamond Heels won 10-2. 

The clouds held the rain back Saturday morning at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park after the Diamond Tar Heels match-up against the Clemson Tigers was changed from 3 p.m. to 1 p.m. due to bad weather. But, North Carolina fell to the Tigers 10-4 in the ACC tournament semifinals. 

What happened?

The Tigers took the lead early, scoring five runs in the first inning against the Tar Heels. Two hits from the Tigers put runners on first and second and then Clemson pitcher Caden Grice hit a ball to right field. This gave the Tigers a 2-0 advantage with Grice on base. The Tigers followed Grice's two-run RBI with two home runs, leaving UNC with their largest deficit against any opponent this ACC tournament. 

North Carolina changed pitchers and got out of the first inning. The Tar Heels switched pitchers numerous times throughout the game, with eight pitchers seeing the mound. North Carolina did not back down, racking up two hits in the second inning as junior third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi put their first run on the board. 

Grice consistently sent the Tar Heels to the dugout with nine strikeouts, limiting their time on base. The Tigers had no problem extending their stay at the plate, racking up 13 hits during the game, most landing in well-placed spots in the gaps. The Tigers added two more runs in their turn at bat during the second inning and held the Tar Heels to just one run — robbing a couple of hits with catches in the deep outfield during the top of the third. 

UNC junior designated hitter Alberto Osuna hit a home run to right field to add another run for the Diamond Heels. This was Osuna’s first home run in 12 games. UNC junior catcher Tomas Frick also hit two home runs, both with no runners on base.

However, the damage was already done, and the No. 6 team in the country showed out on the field. Clemson’s lead-off batter Cam Cannarella hit yet another triple to right-field, driving in two runners for the Tigers and leaving the Tar Heels in a seven run deficit heading into the top of the seventh.

The Clemson Tigers beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 4-10 after nine innings.

Who stood out? 

Even against a tough opponent like Clemson, Frick competed at the plate. Although both were solo, Frick hit two home runs in the sixth and ninth innings, racking up two runs for the Tar Heels.

In a fast roller just past the pitcher, UNC junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson barehanded the ball and threw the Clemson runner out at first base in a close call. This out was essential to ensuring the Tigers gained only one earned run in the bottom of the third.

When was it decided?

A dinger to centerfield hit by Clemson first baseman baseman Billy Amick bounced off the back of the net and Clemson jumped out to a quick four run lead. It felt like this play itself brought down the energy for the North Carolina team, as they previously faced adversity against Clemson, losing all three games to the Tigers just last week in their series in South Carolina.  

Why does it matter?

UNC is the reigning ACC baseball champion. If they had won this game, it would have been their third appearance in the championship game since 2019. This loss means that UNC will likely stay on the No. 2 seed line heading into the NCAA tournament.

The Clemson Tigers are on a winning streak extending to 15 games with this victory over the Tar Heels, cutting North Carolina’s time in the ACC tournament short. 

When do they play next?

The Diamond Heel’s next appearance is yet to be determined. The NCAA tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday at noon, airing on ESPN2. 

@Jordangoochi

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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