In a low-scoring, stinging defeat, the North Carolina baseball team (33-21, 14-14) lost to the No. 7 Clemson Tigers (39-17, 20-10), 3-1, in South Carolina at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as the Tigers swept the Diamond Heels.
In rhythm with the entire series, the Tigers struck first in a loud manner when Clemson pitcher Caden Grice crushed a two-run homer over the right field fence to give the Tar Heels their first deficit of the game.
The inning prior, however, redshirt first year Casey Cook extended his on-base streak to 42 games.
Going into the fifth inning, both teams were struggling offensively, with UNC having one hit and Clemson having three. The slow moving pitchers’ duel was headlined by Grice for Clemson whereas UNC trotted out multiple arms after the exit of sophomore starter Dalton Pence.
Junior outfielder Patrick Alvarez continued to be influential with a single in the top of the fifth, the second hit for the Diamond Heels, while junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson followed it up with an infield single. With two men on base, the Tar Heels were looking for a two-out rally that would not come as Grice notched his eighth strikeout of the game on a breaking ball to Cook.
With the entrance of UNC first-year pitcher Kyle Percival, the Tigers were able to load the bases with one out and looked poised to run up the score. Junior Connor Bovair came in to pitch the Tar Heels out of that jam with a strikeout. Alvarez, however, was the hero of the inning, as the 5 '7” outfielder robbed Grice of what would’ve been a grand slam for the final out of the inning.
With momentum re-established, junior outfielder Mac Horvath notched his first hit of the game, a double, and advanced to third on a passed ball. With Horvath’s double, he became the only ACC ballplayer to have at least 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season since Marshall McDougall at Florida State in 1999. Junior catcher Tomas Frick picked up the RBI with a sacrifice line out to left field giving the Tar Heels their first run of the game.
Clemson attempted to shut down Tar Heel hopes of avoiding a sweep on an RBI double by Riley Bertram, adding an insurance run for the Tigers.