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The Daily Tar Heel

Diamond Heels avoid elimination with 5-0 win over Wright State

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Junior outfielder Mac Horvath prepares to swing at a pitch against Clemson on Saturday, May 27, 2023. UNC lost to the Tigers, 10-4.

Behind a stellar outing by junior Max Carlson, the North Carolina baseball team lives to fight another day with a 5-0 win over the Wright State Raiders in the NCAA Terre Haute Regional. 

What happened?

Carlson began his outing strong, retiring all three batters he faced, but he could not breathe for long. With runners on first and second, junior catcher Tomas Frick grounded into a double play.

The free passes from Wright State’s starter Luke Sofel continued into the second inning as junior outfielder Patrick Alvarez got hit by a pitch and junior third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi was walked. But, the Diamond Heels could not capitalize and grounded into yet another double play.

Junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson knocked the first hit for the Tar Heels in the third inning. Redshirt first-year outfielder Casey Cook sent Wilkerson to third on a grounder to right field, giving the Diamond Heels runners on first and third with no outs. Junior outfielder Mac Horvath grounded into a double play but was able to pick up the RBI as Wilkerson stomped home to give the Tar Heels their first lead of the game. 

Cook came up huge for the Diamond Heels, robbing what would’ve been a two RBI homer by extending over the left field wall and saving the Tar Heels' narrow lead. 

Carlson was relieved by lefty Dalton Pence in the seventh after Wright State put a runner into scoring position on an error by Cook. 

UNC notched their first hit with runners in scoring position as Cook hit an infield single, moving Castagnozzi to third. Horvath broke out of his slump — after having four strikeouts against Iowa — and clobbered a three-run homer over the left field fence to increase the Tar Heel lead. 

Frick got the offense started in the eighth, smacking a ball into the left field gap, and head coach Scott Forbes opted for some small ball to move Frick into scoring position. Castagnozzi added an insurance run for the Tar Heels, sending Frick home on a hard-hit ground ball passed the second baseman. 

Pence finished out the game for the Tar Heels, earning a save and retiring all seven of the batters he faced as the Diamond Heels picked up a 5-0 win. 

Who stood out? 

Carlson was dominant on the mound, having one of his best showings of the season, contributing 6.2 innings of work with one hit, two walks, and five strikeouts. Of Carlson’s 82 pitches, he recorded 60 strikes and only 22 walks — one of his best performances all season.

Horvath broke out of his slump by smashing a three-run homer to ensure the Tar Heels' win over the Raiders.

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels took a narrow lead early in the third on a 6-4-3 double play that scored Wilkerson. The shutout runs, however, came in the seventh inning as Horvath went yard, extending UNC’s lead by three more runs with a single swing of his bat. 

Why does it matter?

The Diamond Heels had to beat the Wright State Raiders or their season would be over. The Tar Heels started slowly, being propped up by Max Carlson’s stellar effort on the mound, as hitting with runners in scoring position still proved difficult for the Tar Heels after going 1-12 in that area yesterday. To stay alive in their next game, the Diamond Heels will need to provide stout pitching and improve timely hitting with runners in scoring position.

When do they play next?

The Diamond Heels will face either Iowa or Indiana State tomorrow at noon.

@gracegnugent

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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