The Heels capped a 4-1 week with a let down in its final game against Duke. The Heels had coupled solid offensive outings with strong pitching to wins for much of the week. The team laid an egg Sunday, only getting four hits and using eight pitchers in their loss.
Liberty (Monday W 6-4):
Trevor Kelley threw 5.1 innings of outstanding relief of starter Hunter Williams. Kelley needed only 41 pitches to get through his time on the mound, only allowing one hit. Carolina used 12 hits, including 3 from Alex Raburn to power themselves to six runs. The game also saw Freshman Zack Gahagan hit his first career home run, his power looks to be an important boost for the Heels. Sloppiness continued to plague the Heels as they only gave up three hits but allowed four runs. This sloppiness needs to be rooted out before the end of the season or the Heels could struggle in tight postseason games.
VCU (Wednesday W 6-5):Carolina went 4-1 on the week, beating Liberty (6-4), VCU (6-5) and Duke twice (8-1 | 6-2) before losing to Duke (9-2) on Sunday in the series finale.
Coach Fox kept a short leash on his pitchers, using eight, in the Wednesday win in Chapel Hill. Carolina appeared to have the upper hand heading into the top of the ninth with a 5-2 lead. However, reliever Trent Thornton gave up three runs and only got two outs. With the game tied, the Heels loaded the bases before Sean Thompson threw a wild pitch, scoring Brian Miller from third to give the Heels the game.
Duke Game One (Friday W 8-1):
The Heels opened ACC play with a 8-1 thrashing of Duke. The Tar Heel pitchers combined to throw 16 strikeouts while allowing only five hits. Zack Gallen threw 117 pitches, a personal career high and season high for the Heels, in seven full innings of work. Trevor Kelley came in relief for the final two innings and allowed only one hit. Skye Bolt enjoyed a particularly good day at the plate. Bolt had three hits, two RBIs and scored three times to lead the Heels in all those categories.
Duke Game Two (Saturday W 6-2):
Carolina was held scoreless for the first three innings by Duke star pitcher Michael Matuella. Matuella allowed only on hit and threw only 39 pitches in his three innings before sitting for the rest of the contest. Matuella was matched by J.B. Bukauskas on the mound for the Heels. Bukauskas struck out eight and allowed only four hits in 91 pitches and six innings of work. The shutout innings from Bukauskas powered the Heels to the win, as the offense was led by three hits apiece from Logan Warmoth and Landon Lassiter. The offense as a whole had a lot of balance as six different Heels scored and hit RBIs.
Duke Game Three (Sunday L 9-2):
Carolina had its worst hitting of the week in the Sunday game, getting only four hits in a sloppy game which saw the Heels use eight pitchers. Bailey Clark threw eight excellent innings for Duke allowing only two runs--one earned, four hits and striking out eight with only 104 pitches. Nick Hendrix closed for Duke, striking out two and allowing no hits. The Heels scored their first run off Duke errors and then their second on a Zack Gahagan home run. Duke was led by first baseman Justin Bellinger who had three hits in four at bats for a career high five RBIs.
Notes from the week:
The Heels have lacked for power so far this season and if freshman Zack Gahagan continues the Heels offense could pick up as the season goes on.
J.B. Bukauskas continues to show he's the real deal, pitching just as well if not better than Matuella who is supposed to be a first round pick this year. Bukauskas is showing that this freshman class the Heels brought in is one of the best in awhile.
Trevor Kelley had a great week as a reliever, appearing in four games and throwing 12.1 innings, allowing 4 earned runs. If Kelley continues to successfully work out of the bullpen for long stretches the Heels will have a solid option to hold opponents coming out of the bullpen.