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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 11 UNC baseball defeats Louisville, 14-4, in first game of series

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Junior outfielder Vance Honeycutt (7) hits the ball during the baseball game against Coastal Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

The No. 11 Diamond Heels (37-11, 18-7 ACC) beat the Louisville Cardinals (29-20, 13-12 ACC), 14-4, in eight innings on Friday night at Boshamer Stadium. 

The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning, as first-year pitcher Jason DeCaro gave up a hit by pitch, single and walk. However, DeCaro was able to escape the inning with back-to-back flyouts with the bases loaded to keep the game scoreless. 

In the bottom of the inning, junior center fielder Vance Honeycutt hit a solo shot to right field to tie the North Carolina career home run record with 57 to tie Devy Bell . 

"[Bell] was really awesome,” Honeycutt said. “Told me that he wanted [me to break the record], that he was happy for me, excited for me and hoped I did it.”

With one out, senior first baseman Parks Harber singled up the middle, but UNC was unable to advance Harber and entered the second with a 1-0 advantage. 

Louisville got runners on first and second with no outs to start the top of the second and loaded the bases after a walk. DeCaro then walked the next batter, bringing in the Louisville runner from third to tie the game 1-1. UNC then was able to convert a 4-6-3 double play but allowed another Louisville run.

A lengthy review awarded first-year catcher Luke Stevenson a double after the umpire ruled the ball didn’t clear the fence, senior shortstop Colby Wilkerson popped out to end the inning. 

In the bottom of the third inning, Honeycutt hit his second solo home run of the game to break the all time career record at North Carolina with his 58th career home run. 

“The kid’s phenomenal,” head coach Scott Forbes said. “And we just celebrated that he broke the record and gave him the ball that he broke the record with, and then I told him, I said, ‘Man, you’re gonna have a lot more cause you got one more year here at North Carolina.’ Everybody laughed.”

Following a single up the middle from redshirt sophomore left fielder Casey Cook, Harber smashed a two-run shot to center field to give the Diamond Heels a 4-2 advantage in the bottom of the third. 

After graduate right fielder Anthony Donofrio was walked, senior designated hitter Alberto Osuna hit UNC’s third home run of the inning with no outs to extend the North Carolina lead to five. With one out, first-year third baseman Gavin Gallaher smashed a solo shot to left center field to continue the home run onslaught for the Tar Heels.

“It just shows that our offense is so, so dynamic,” Osuna said. “I mean not only are we hitting home runs, but we’re also, we can steal bases whenever. Like we can move guys, we can score however we want. I feel like that’s what we need to do.” 

The Cardinals answered back in the top of the fourth, hitting a solo shot to right field to cut the UNC lead to 7-3. North Carolina responded in the bottom of the fourth as Osuna blasted a three run homer to left field, giving the Tar Heels a 10-3 lead. 

North Carolina was able to hold the Cardinals scoreless in both the fifth and sixth innings. After going scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, UNC loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Gallaher struck out to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, key defensive plays from the North Carolina infield prevented the Cardinals from getting anything going as Louisville grounded out to end the inning, stranding a runner on base. The Tar Heels went scoreless again in the seventh, and Louisville was able to plate a run in the top of the eighth inning with two outs. With runners on first and second, redshirt sophomore pitcher Dalton Pence struck out Louisville's Dylan Hoy to end the top of the eighth inning. 

Donofrio continued the home run fest for North Carolina in the eighth inning, blasting a two-run shot to left field. UNC then loaded the bases with one out, and Osuna came home after Stevenson was walked. Wilkerson then ended the game by driving in graduate second baseman Alex Madera to implement the run-rule to give UNC a 14-4 win. 

The Tar Heels will look to win the series tomorrow in game two against Louisville. First pitch is slated for noon at the Bosh.

@mdmaynard74

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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