In a low-momentum showing, the North Carolina baseball team (33-19, 14-12) lost to the No. 7 Clemson Tigers (37-17, 18-10), 14-7, in South Carolina at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as the Tar Heels dropped the first game of their final ACC series.
The Tigers clawed their way into the lead early, with Caden Grice taking junior pitcher Max Carlson yard on a changeup over the outer front of the plate giving Clemson a two-run lead.
Carlson let up four in the second inning on six hits, in his first Thursday start since the Boston College loss. Coming into the day, Carlson has shown to be less than stellar when facing batters with runners on base, with the opposition’s batting average sitting at .290, something that is proving detrimental when it comes to pitching consistency.
The Tigers continued their offensive onslaught in the second, scoring four runs — all with two outs — with the Tar Heel defense struggling, notching two errors in the inning. Carlson also struggled, allowing six hits, four of them RBIs, which gave the Tigers a very early leg up.
Junior third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi took matters into his own hands in an effort to keep the Tar Heels in the ball game with a two-run homer to center field in the fourth. The New York native plated another run for the Tar Heels in the following frame on an RBI single, scoring junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake.
Clemson kept the bats hot as designated hitter Billy Amick crushed a ball to left center field off Tar Heel first-year pitcher Kyle Percival — who came in the previous inning to relieve Carlson — and increased the Tiger lead to four runs. First-year pitcher Matthew Matthijs came in as relief, striking out two and getting the Tar Heels out of a dangerous two-men-on-base situation.
The Tigers added more insurance runs in the sixth on the Tar Heels' third error of the game. But, the Tigers shut the door on the Tar Heels on a slider over the outside of the plate that Clemson third baseman Blake Wright smashed over the center field wall, plating three runs and giving Clemson a 12-3 edge.
In the top of the ninth, the Tar Heels attempted to cut down the deficit, plating four additional runs on singles by first-year outfielder Carter French and junior outfielder Patrick Alvarez and a Clemson error. In the final frame alone, UNC chipped in an additional five hits.