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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 13 UNC baseball sweeps Notre Dame for program-record 27th consecutive home win

UNC junior outfielder Vance Honeycutt (7) hits the ball during the baseball game against VCU at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

The No. 13 UNC baseball team (29-7, 14-4 ACC) completed its sweep of Notre Dame (15-18, 2-16 ACC) on Sunday, 10-3, at Boshamer Stadium. The victory was UNC’s 27th consecutive home win, setting a program record. 

In the first start of his UNC career, junior pitcher Aidan Haugh retired the Fighting Irish with relative ease in the top of the first, striking out two. A check-hit infield single was the lone base runner that Notre Dame could produce in the inning.

“For some people, they might find it a little bit anxious or nervous,” Haugh said. “But really it's just another day. Kind of like I said before, I tried not to make too much of a deal out of it and just kind of go out there and have fun.”

In the bottom of the frame, junior center fielder Vance Honeycutt hit UNC’s third first-inning home run of the series. Graduate right fielder Anthony Donofrio got the inning started with a rope into right center field. Honeycutt brought him home with a shot into right field. The hit appeared to be a lazy fly ball but it just kept carrying, barely clearing the wall for a 2-run homer. 

“I don't think I'll ever coach anybody better than Vance Honeycutt in center field,” head coach Scott Forbes said. “He saved our team so many runs, and nobody talks about it.”

Haugh kept his dominant outing going in the second, striking out two more batters swinging. The Tar Heels responded by producing more run support for him in the bottom of the inning. A double down the left field line by graduate second baseman Alex Madera quickly turned into UNC’s third run of the game when senior third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi drove him in with an RBI single into right field.

The Tar Heels capitalized on Fighting Irish fielding mishaps in the third to add another run. After Notre Dame retired the first two batters of the inning, senior first baseman Parks Harber reached on an error from the Irish third baseman. He quickly reached second on a passed ball, putting him in scoring position. First-year catcher Luke Stevenson lined a two-out single over the shortstop’s head, and head coach Scott Forbes waved Harber home.

UNC’s scoring streak continued in the fourth. Castagnozzi led off the frame with a leadoff double down the left field line, sliding easily into second base. Senior shortstop Colby Wilkerson moved him over to third with a groundout to the right side, and Donofrio brought him in with a sac fly for his fourth RBI of the series. That was the start of a 5-run inning for UNC, capped off by a Stevenson RBI single up the middle to put UNC up 9-0.

After the Tar Heels had their first scoreless frame in the fifth, the Fighting Irish found their first run of the game in the sixth. Sophomore pitcher Kyle Percival entered in relief of Haugh and relinquished an unearned run following an error from Castagnozzi. 

“[Haugh] was lights out today,” Honeycutt said. “It was fun to watch, I think. You know, at first, whenever he got here, he never talked, but now he's kind of opening up, and he's really fun to be around, and he's really fun to watch on the mound.”

Notre Dame continued to claw back in the seventh. The Fighting Irish capitalized on a leadoff walk from sophomore pitcher Cameron Padgett. With a runner on first, Irish shortstop Jack Penney sneaked a home run just inside the left field foul pole to bring Notre Dame within six. 

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The Tar Heels added one more run of insurance before senior pitcher Matt Poston came on to shut down the Fighting Irish in the ninth. Poston struck out the final batter with an offspeed pitch in the dirt, completing the 7-run win.

UNC returns to Boshamer on Tuesday to take on No. 20 Coastal Carolina, looking to earn its 28th straight home win.


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