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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 11 UNC baseball defeats N.C State, 14-3, to prevent series sweep

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Junior outfielder Vance Honeycutt (7) celebrates a home run with head coach Scott Forbes during the baseball game against Coastal Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

RALEIGH, North Carolina — The No. 11 North Carolina Diamond Heels (30-10, 15-6) avoided a weekend sweep, defeating the N.C. State Wolfpack (23-14, 12-9) 14-3 on Saturday afternoon.

A big third inning, which saw the Tar Heels put up a five-spot, propelled the Diamond Heels to a big win in the third game against N.C. State. Stellar pitching from junior Aidan Haugh held the Wolfpack to two runs through six innings, helping the Tar Heels maintain first place in the ACC Coastal Division. 

Junior outfielder Vance Honeycutt tallied the Tar Heels’ first hit with a single to the left side and then stole second base at the top of the first. However, a pop-out from redshirt sophomore outfielder Casey Cook and a ground-out from senior first baseman Parks Harber ended the top half of the inning. N.C. State advanced runners to second and third and junior pitcher Aidan Haugh was able to escape the inning and keep the game scoreless. 

Haugh was once again able to escape a jam with runners on second and third in the bottom of the second, working out of a 3-0 count to strike out the Wolfpack’s Eli Serrano III.

“We all kind of thought that if something were ever to happen, he would kind of clean that next starter role because he does have three to four pitches that he can command,” said senior pitcher Connor Bovair on Haugh. 

In the top of the third, the Tar Heels loaded the bases. Cook then singled through the right side, driving in two runs to give the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead. 

Graduate outfielder Anthony Donofrio then scored from third for the Tar Heels after a wild pick-off attempt at first base, extending the UNC lead to three. The Diamond Heels loaded the bases again after senior designated hitter Alberto Osuna drew a walk with one out. On the next at-bat, first-year catcher Luke Stevenson hit a deep pop out to left field, bringing home Cook, with Harber plating another run after a fielding error by N.C. State to take a 5-0 lead after the top of the third.

After a one, two, three bottom of the third, graduate second baseman Alex Madera started the fourth inning with a solo shot to left field. N.C. State answered with a solo shot of its own in the bottom of the fourth, cutting the UNC lead to 6-1. 

In the top of the sixth, Honeycutt roped a grounder through the left side that reached the outfield wall for a two-RBI triple. On the next at-bat, Cook drove a ball deep into left center field to extend the lead to 9-1. 

“He's [Honeycutt] so talented, but I've said it before. He's the most talented, best all-around player I've ever coached and ever been around,” said head coach Scott Forbes. “And he's also the same human being. That's why he's able to be who he is.”

The Wolfpack’s Jacob Cozart hit his second home run of the game — another solo shot — cutting the UNC lead to seven as the Wolfpack looked to get their offense going. However, that was all the damage N.C. State could muster in the sixth, as Haugh continued to deal. 

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In the top of the seventh inning, senior shortstop Colby Wilkerson roped a double down the left field line, scoring Madera from first. Donofrio grounded out to end the top of the seventh with North Carolina up 10-2. The Wolfpack added another run in the bottom of the inning off a high pop fly that UNC lost in the sun and let drop. 

After adding a run in the eighth, Wilkerson smashed a three-run home run to right field, putting the final touches on the Tar Heels’ 14-3 win over the Wolfpack. 

The Tar Heels next face Gardner Webb on Tuesday. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium. 

@mdmaynard74

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com