UNC does it to NC State again. The Tar Heels scored three runs in third inning and escaped multiple jams with Wolfpack runners in scoring position to take a 4-3 win and advance into Pool B of the ACC Tournament. It is the third straight season UNC has beaten NC State in the ACC Tournament. The loss may have also ended NC State's season.
UNC sent All-ACC First Team pitcher Reilly Hovis to the mound for what ended up being a fairly short outing. Hovis gave up a triple to NC State's Trea Turner to open the game and Turner eventually scored on by Brett Austin to give the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead in the first. Skye Bolt responded in the bottom of the second with a home run to right field tying the game. The Heels took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third with three runs on a pair of RBI singles and a sac fly.
NC State responded in the top of the fourth scoring a pair of runs and chasing Hovis who gave way to Zach Rice. The Tar Heel freshman struck out a pair of batters with the bases loaded and one out to preserve UNC's 4-3 advantage.
Then things got really weird, especially for home plate umpire Mark Chapman. In the bottom of the fourth UNC managed to loaded the bases with two outs and Wood Myers sitting on a 3-0 count against the Wolfpack's Cody Beckman. At this point Chapman's strike zone suddenly expanded and Myers was called out on a questionable pitch high and inside when a walk would have plated a run for the Heels. Move to the top of the fifth where NC State threatened again with runners on second and third and one out. Trevor Kelley got a strikeout and on Korey Dunbar's throw back to the pitcher, Trea Turner attempted to steal home. Unfortunately for Turner and NC State, Chapman wasn't paying attention and despite Turner beating Kelley's throw to the plate, he was called out.
And so it remained 4-3 despite both teams putting runners in scoring positions but consistently failing to push runs across. Ultimately NC State's best, last chance came in the 8th with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no one out. Mike Fox opted to bring in ace Trent Thornton who pitched on Friday against Miami. Thornton shut the door on NC State with a pair of strikeouts and a fly out. He made quick work of the Wolfpack in the top of the ninth to secure the win.
UNC advances to Pool B of the ACC Tournament and face FSU(Wednesday), Virginia(Friday) and Maryland(Saturday). Sophomore Taylore Cherry will get the nod versus the Seminoles who took two of three from UNC during the regular season. Zac Gallen will start versus Virginia on Friday. The starter for the match-up with Maryland has yet to be decided.