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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 14 UNC baseball defeats N.C. A&T, 10-5, in midweek game

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UNC junior Vance Honeycutt (7) prepares to catch the ball in the outfield during the game against N.C. A&T at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

No. 14 UNC baseball (22-4) continued its undefeated home streak at Boshamer Stadium, taking down N.C. A&T (17-7), 10-5, on Tuesday evening. 

First-year pitcher Olin Johnson began his fifth start of the season with ease, quickly retiring the Aggies in order in the first inning. In the bottom of the frame, first-year third baseman Gavin Gallaher jumped on the first pitch to give UNC a leadoff base runner. The Tar Heels were unable to bring him across, though, stranding him on second base.

Next inning, a leadoff walk left Johnson with Aggies on the corners and one out. Johnson knocked down a liner back up the middle, threw to second, but graduate second baseman Alex Madera could not turn the double play in time. The runner on third crossed the plate on the play, giving N.C. A&T an early 1-0 lead.

The Tar Heels would respond quickly, though. In the bottom of the second, senior designated hitter Alberto Osuna gave UNC its second straight leadoff base runner after the Aggies’ shortstop bounced the throw into first base for an error. The next batter, senior first baseman Parks Harber launched a rocket into right center field that towered over the wall for a two-run shot, giving UNC a 2-1 lead.

“I think I’m just doing a lot better job of getting the ball in the air,” Harber said. “Luckily, if I get it in the air, it has a much better chance of going out than hitting it on the ground.”

After an hour and a half delay, sophomore pitcher Mathew Matthijs inherited the bases loaded and no outs in the third. He retired the first batter he faced, taking in a dribbler and throwing out the runner at home. The next batter, though, sent a flyball into right, which graduate right fielder Anthony Donofrio brought in but was unable to throw out the runner tagging up at third.

“I like to say, when another team has the momentum and the momentum stops, it definitely doesn’t hurt,” head coach Scott Forbes said.

UNC regained the lead again in the bottom of the inning. Gallaher again gave UNC a leadoff base runner, and with one out, junior center fielder Vance Honeycutt tripled down the left field line. A sac fly brought Honeycutt home, and two errors gave UNC its third run of the inning. 

“I’ve always said that I’m just going to hit where they put me,” Gallaher said. “I’m not worried about where I’m at in the lineup. If our guys are swinging it well when I’m in the one spot, then I’ll take it.”

After the Aggies added a run in the fifth, the Tar Heel bats stayed hot out of the delay. Osuna rocketed a no-doubter into left field, and Harber followed it up with his second home run of the game. 

In the sixth, UNC up 7-3, the Tar Heels added three more. Redshirt sophomore Casey Cook brought home a run with a single into left field, advancing Gallaher to third on the play. Gallaher quickly scooted home on a wild pitch in the next at-bat, and a two-out RBI single from Donofrio capped off the scoring for the UNC offense.

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The Aggies added two in the seventh, but senior pitcher Ben Peterson shut them down in the ninth and UNC earned the 5-run win.

The Tar Heels travel to Winston-Salem this weekend to take on No. 12 Wake Forest.

@brendan_lunga18

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com