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The Daily Tar Heel

Diamond Heels defeat Gardner-Webb 5-4 in last home midweek matchup of season

UNC junior infielder Mac Horvath (10) tosses the ball during the baseball game against VCU on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at Boshamer Stadium. UNC won 14-10.

In their last home midweek matchup of the year, the North Carolina baseball team (30-17) defeated Gardner-Webb (27-20) 5-4 on Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium. 

What happened?

Junior pitcher Jake Knapp started on the mound for North Carolina and made quick work in the first, going three up, three down. In the bottom of the frame, the Tar Heels were unable to drive in redshirt first-year right fielder Casey Cook, who was hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. 

The Tar Heels got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning, as junior infielder Mac Horvath blasted a two-run home run to left field, putting the Diamond Heels up 2-0.

Gardner-Webb answered with a homer of their own in the top of the fourth, as Alec Burns hit a solo shot to right center, cutting the UNC lead to one. On the next at bat, Trevor Mattson hit a solo homer, tying the game.

The next batter, Humberto Torres, got in on the action, hitting Gardner-Webb’s third straight solo home run, giving them a 3-2 lead. North Carolina avoided any more damage in the fourth, as junior pitcher Ben Peterson was able to retire the next two batters after replacing sophomore Dalton Pence. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Horvath hit a leadoff single to left field, followed by junior first baseman Hunter Stokely singling up the middle, advancing Horvath to third. North Carolina tied the game as sophomore outfielder Reece Holbrook bunted, driving in Horvath.

The North Carolina lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Torres hit his second solo shot of the game — and Gardner-Webb’s fourth of the evening — to lead off the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, sophomore outfielder Vance Honeycutt singled to right center, and then Horvath doubled to right field. Gardner-Webb intentionally walked junior designated hitter Alberto Osuna to load the bases.

North Carolina tied the game after an error brought in Honeycutt. Then, a balk by Gardner-Webb pitcher Phil Fox plated Horvath, giving UNC a 5-4 lead before the end of the inning. In the ninth, the Diamond Heels were able to fend off a potential comeback attempt, winning 5-4.   

Who stood out? 

Horvath went 3-4 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs. He also became the second Tar Heel to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season. The first to do it was Honeycutt, who completed the feat last season. 

When was it decided?

After giving up four solo home runs, the Tar Heels were able to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring runs off of an error and a balk by Gardner-Webb. In the ninth, the Diamond Heels were able to fend off a comeback attempt to take a 5-4 win. 

Why does it matter?

Tuesday’s game was the first the Tar Heels have played since downing ECU last Wednesday before a break for final exams. With the win, the Tar Heels are riding a two-game winning streak into a big matchup against NC State this weekend.  

Carrying that momentum into the weekend will be big as the Tar Heels look to pick up a series win in a tense and vital ACC rivalry matchup. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels open their last home series of the regular season on Thursday against NC State. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.


@dthsports |

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