Carolina took a season series from the Rhode Island Rams this past weekend. The Heels were forced to move home games away from Chapel Hill for the second straight week. The Heels played in Florence South Carolina due to winter weather. The Heels never played great offense but the strength of their defense and pitching propelled them to two wins on Friday. The Heels played sloppily on Saturday, committing five errors in the loss.
Friday Game One (W 4-3):
The Heels relied on an excellent effort from starter Benton Moss, who went seven innings on 97 pitches. Moss only allowed six hits and struck out ten while walking none and allowing no runs. The bullpen was a bit shaky, reliever Chris McCue allowed three runs while only getting on out to put the Rams in a threatening position. The Heels were able to hold behind Trent Thornton who got the save.
Offensively, the Heels had a good team showing, eight players each had one hit, with Skye Bolt the lone starter to not record a hit during the game. The Heels also drew six walks in the game, and the extra base-runners were key to the four runs.
Friday Game Two (W 5-3):
The Heels were able to turn five hits into five runs in the second Friday game to come from behind to beat the Rams. Rhode Island took the lead when Mike Sherburne hit a two run homer off Carolina Freshman starter J.B. Bukauskas. Bukauskas only allowed the two runs and eventually a five man relief effort subdued the Rams and gave Carolina the win. The Heels gave the ball to Thornton to end the game and he delivered another 1.2 scoreless innings to earn his second save of the day. Offensively, the Heels worked 8 walks out of the Rams' pitching staff. Tyler Ramirez led the Heels with two RBIs.
Saturday (L 6-3):
The Rams saved their best effort for last, scoring four runs in the top of the 9th to beat Carolina for their first win of the year on Saturday. Rhode Island starter Lou Distasio threw six scoreless innings and struck out nine to lead the Rams to the win. Carolina tapped sophomore Zac Gallen for his first start of the season. Gallen responded by throwing six innings in which he gave up two runs, one earned, and struck out nine. That turned out to not be enough as the Heels could only turn 16 base-runners into three runs. The Heels scored in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 2-1 but unraveled in the top of the 9th to allow 4 runs which took the game out of reach.
The Heels continue to be very patient at bat, they drew twenty walks during the series, compared to 21 hits.
Skye Bolt only had one hit this weekend but struck out three times--not a good sign for the Heels' offense.
Gallen and Moss each threw more than ninety pitches, the first Carolina pitchers to record more than 85 all season.
Reilly Hovis missed the series with a right forearm strain. His absence necessitated moving Trent Thornton to the bullpen.