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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 15 UNC baseball defeats Wagner College, 10-3, in season opener

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UNC senior infielder Jackson Van De Brake (6) looks to catch the ball during their season opener against Wagner University at Boshamer Stadium on Feb. 16. UNC won 10-3.

The No. 15 North Carolina Diamond Heels (1-0) beat Wagner College (0-1), 10-3, on Friday afternoon in its season opener at Boshamer Stadium.

After struggling to find its offense in the first few innings, the Diamond Heels erupted in the sixth inning, tallying six runs and putting the game out of reach.  

In the top of the first inning, first-year pitcher Folger Boaz — who is the first first-year pitcher to start on opening day since 1998 — retired the side. 

“It’s something you dream of every day and I think coming in here and being able to just play with these guys and be around these guys, and it makes it real easy when you got a lineup like we do,” Boaz said. 

In the bottom of the inning, redshirt sophomore outfielder Casey Cook was hit by a pitch, and then senior transfer infielder Parks Harber singled to left field.

“Obviously I was nervous at bat, definitely first at bat in the Bosh,” Harber said. “I think first of all, credit to him — for Anthony — he’s just such a talented guy and you know we are both older guys so you know the nerves probably weren’t as high.”

Graduate outfielder Anthony Donofrio then singled into left field, and Cook scored from second base to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead with men on second and third. Right after, senior third baseman Jackson Van De Brake hit a sac fly to center field to extend the UNC lead to two. 

After a scoreless second inning, the Tar Heels started off the bottom of the third inning with a Cook walk and Harber single into shallow center field. Cook advanced to third after a deep sac fly off the bat of Donofrio, however North Carolina was unable to capitalize as first-year catcher Luke Stevenson struck out. 

In the top of the fifth inning, Wagner tallied its first run of the game off of a hard hit single by Connor Roche to left field that drove in Xavier Baker from third base. Boaz then surrendered second base to Roche on a wild pitch, and walked Lukas Torres. Boaz was able to escape the ending without any more damage after a groundout and the Tar Heel lead cut to 2-1. 

However, the Tar Heels found life in the bottom of the fifth inning, as junior outfielder Vance Honeycutt was walked, followed by a Cook single down the first base line that advanced Honeycutt to third. Harber hit a deep sac fly to right field, driving in Honeycutt to restore the two run lead. 

Senior Matt Poston replaced Boaz to start the top of the sixth and was able to quell the Wagner offense despite runners on first and second. Stevenson then hit a line drive double to deep right field to start off the bottom of the inning for the Tar Heels. Wilkerson drove in two runs as he ripped a double to right field that just stayed fair and advanced to third on the throw home. 

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In the next at bat, Honeycutt hit a two-run bomb to right center field to put the Tar Heels up 7-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

“He’s [Honeycutt] the best center fielder in the country defensively,” head coach Scott Forbes said. But he is also one of the most powerful guys in the country with that speed and that power.”

Donofrio then hit a triple off the center field wall to drive home Harber. A Wagner error with the bases loaded drove in Donofrio to extend the UNC lead. 

After Wagner smashed a solo home run in the top of the seventh, North Carolina was able to drive another run in after an error at third base. However, Wagner answered with another solo shot in the top of the eighth to make it 10-3. The Tar Heels were able to prevent any chance of a Wagner comeback, winning 10-3. 

The Tar Heels face off against Wagner again tomorrow in the second of three games between the teams. First pitch is slated for noon. 

@mdmaynard74

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com