In a down-to-the-wire game, the North Carolina baseball team (28-17), lost to the No. 13 Campbell Camels (32-10), 6-5, Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium.
The Camels scored first, as Drew Winters blasted a two-run homer over the head of first-year outfielder Casey Cook to give Campbell a 2-0 lead in the second frame.
Carter French got his first RBI of the season in his first start, with a single to center field. The Florida native has seen the outfield in recent games but not much time at the plate until tonight, taking left field for the injured Patrick Alverez.
First-year pitcher Cameron Padgett remained on the mound for 2.2 innings and was relieved by graduate Kevin Eaise. The Camels found home plate once again with two outs in the third frame.
The Tar Heels bounced back and found their offense mojo in the third as sophomore outfielder Vance Honeycutt drew a walk and junior Mac Horvath advanced to first on an error by the shortstop. Honeycutt and Horvath — who lead the Tar Heels in bases stolen — stole second and third, respectively, and were hit in on a single by junior first baseman Hunter Stokely to tie the game. Catcher Tomas Frick gave the Tar Heels the lead as he proceeded to bat Stokley home on a 415-foot home run to left field.
Defensive diving heroics at second base by Van De Brake helped the Tar Heels make it out of the fifth frame unscathed, going three up and three down with junior Ben Peterson on the mound.
The Camels found their fighting spirit in the top of the seventh frame when Bryce Arnold blasted a two-run homer to left field to tie the game at 5-5.
With the game coming down to the wire, Campbell loaded the bases in the top of the ninth with no outs on a double, a bunt and a hit by pitch. After one run scored on a hit by pitch, the Diamond Heels called on graduate pitcher Nick Pry to get them out of the jam. The key to escaping the inning with one run however was Frick, who completed a double play at the plate all by himself.
In the Tar Heels last effort, Horvath drew a walk and swiped second, getting himself into scoring position. Frick followed his lead and drew a walk leading the winning run to sit on first base, but the Diamond Heels were unable to drive a run, as junior designated hitter Alberto Osuna grounded into a double play to end the game.
Who stood out?
Frick produced at the plate for the Tar Heels going 2-for-2 with two runs, two hits and two RBIs as well as a home run for good measure. The catcher earned two of the outs in the top of the ninth catching a foul tip and proceeding to tag out the runner coming home.
Coming off being named ACC baseball player of the week, Horvath had a less-than-stellar outing at the plate, but managed to steal two bags, bringing his count for the season up to 21. The Minnesota slugger is one homer away from the benchmark of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, which has been done only once before in North Carolina baseball history.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels allowed the Camels to load the bases in the ninth inning during a tied game. While Campbell only scored one in the inning, it gave them the edge over the Tar Heels.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels are looking to build their resume with the hopes of a spot in the NCAA tournament. Nine of their last 10 regular season games are against teams in the top 30 for RPI, a stat that grades teams based on wins and losses with the strength of the schedule and a metric taken into account by the NCAA committee when it comes time for the postseason. The Tar Heels will look to win against ranked teams in the coming weeks to bolster their resume before the selection show.
When do they play next?
The Diamond Heels will travel to Greenville Wednesday before the exam break and take on East Carolina in the much delayed conclusion of the series that began in February. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
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