The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, May 20, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

No. 13 Diamond Heels cruise past Notre Dame, 7-2, to clinch series

20240406_Peace_sheasprague-198.jpg

Junior pitcher Shea Sprague (28) pitches during the UNC baseball game against UVA on April 6, 2024. UNC won 12-7.

The No. 13 North Carolina baseball team (28-7, 13-4 ACC) cruised past Notre Dame (15-17, 2-15 ACC), 7-2, to win the series in two games on Saturday in Chapel Hill.

Junior pitcher Shea Sprague took the mound for UNC and threw five and two-thirds innings and allowed two runs. Sprague struck out four batters and issued one walk. 

Graduate outfielder Anthony Donofrio did it all offensively for North Carolina on Saturday. The Quinnipiac transfer went 3-5 with a home run, double, pair of RBIs and one stolen base. 

“We are lucky to have him,” head coach Scott Forbes said. “He plays hard every single pitch, everything he does. He doesn’t take anything off so that’s refreshing.”

The Diamond Heels couldn’t keep the ball in the park in the early innings of game two. Donofrio got things started with his leadoff homer in North Carolina’s first at-bat of the game. An inning later, Alberto Osuna copied his teammate with a leadoff homer of his own to put UNC up 2-0.

Osuna’s 413-foot shot was the 40th home run of his career, making him the 10th UNC player to reach the milestone.  

Despite finding himself in a two-on-one-out jam in the top of the second, Sprague struck out two straight batters to keep the Fighting Irish off the board. And in the fourth, the left-hander’s pickoff move to first base threw out the only Irish batter he walked. 

“Those are the guys you just wanna go after,” Sprague said. “So I trusted my stuff and stayed composed in a situation with runners on.”  

In the bottom half of the fifth, UNC collected its first non-home-run hit of the game: a legged-out double by senior Johnny Castagnozzi. An RBI single by Donofrio two at-bats later scored Castagnozzi from second and prompted a pitching change for the Fighting Irish. 

Notre Dame tallied its first run in the sixth inning after a series of miscues from North Carolina. A dropped infield fly and a wild pitch put an Irish runner in scoring position before an RBI single by Simon Baumgardt knocked him home. Notre Dame plated a second runner moments later following a pitching change of reliever Dalton Pence for Sprague. 

However, the Diamond Heels responded in the bottom half of the inning. Loaded bases reaped two runs via Casey Cook’s two-RBI line drive. The Tar Heels led 5-0 through six frames. 

UNC padded its lead in the later innings. A Vance Honeycutt home run here, and a sacrifice fly there allowed the Diamond Heels to cruise through the final three innings. 

“It’s unreal how much talent we have on this team,” Osuna said. 

Reliever Matthew Matthijs shut things down in the eighth and ninth, striking out three batters and closing out the game. 

The Diamond Heels will be back home on Sunday to attempt the series sweep against Notre Dame. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.

@cadeshoemaker23

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.