Carolina had their ACC opener against Pitt last week and took two of three games from the Panthers. The Heels got excellent performances from Zac Gallen and J.B. Bukauskas on Friday and Saturday before an offensive dud on Sunday gave the Panthers some consolation. The offense found its groove again in the mid-week with a blowout win over ECU in Greenville and then a 11-6 win over Elon at home. While the basketball team was winning in Raleigh the baseball team followed suit in Durham with a sweep of the Blue Devils.
1st Friday's Game: #12 Carolina 14 Pitt 2
The offense stayed hot and exploded for 8 runs in the bottom of the fifth to decide the game. Brian Miller submitted a standout performance for the Heels. He had his first career homerun, scored twice, had three hits, four RBIs and a double in five at bats. Tyler Ramirez and Eli Sutherland each had three hits with Ramirez going three for three with one double and a walk while Sutherland went three for four with two doubles.
Zac Gallen was his stellar self on Friday with a dominating eight inning performance. Gallen allowed only 4 hits, one walk and one hit batsman but had five strikeouts on only 84 pitches. Gallen's ERA is now 1.17 and he has been every bit as good as advertised. The Heels were up 14-1 heading into the top of the ninth and Ryder Ryan took the mound with less than stellar results, Ryan walked three batters and allowed a hit to plate Pitt's second run. Brett Daniels then came in for the Heels and struck out one batter before getting a ground out into a double play to end the game.
1st Saturday's Game: #12 Carolina 4 Pitt 0
The Carolina offense was much less successful on Saturday but the Heels got a cracking performance from J.B. Bukauskas on the mound to power them to the win. Bukauskas was stellar in seven innings of work with excellent fastball command matched by a powerful slider. He notched eleven strikeouts with only five hits and two walks. Bukauskas threw 75 strikes on 108 pitches a great rate for the Heels' starter. After Bukauskas finished his stellar outing the coaches turned the game over to A.J. Bogucki who preserved the shutout in his final two innings of work. Bogucki allowed only two singles as he cruised to hold them scoreless.
Tyler Ramirez led the way on offense for the Heels. Ramirez went two for four, hit a solo homerun and posted three total RBIs on the day. Brian Miller and Adam Pate were the other standouts for the Heels. The lead off man, Miller, scored and and a hit while Pate scored twice and had a triple. Carolina scored efficiently on Saturday as they plated as many runners as they left on base. The offense was not great, but, given Bukauskas' outstanding performance, was more than enough to give Carolina the win.
1st Sunday's Game: Pitt 5 #12 Carolina 0
The Diamond Heels were blanked on Sunday. Carolina starter Jason Morgan got roughed up his second time through the order. Pitt scored three times in the top of the fourth and twice in the top of the fifth. Morgan was chased after 4.1 and allowed 6 hits for all five of the Pitt runs. The bullpen handled the rest of the game with Hunter Williams, Spencer Trayner, Zach Rice and Brett Daniels making appearances. Daniels was quite impressive as he threw the Heels' last three innings and allowed only one hit.
On offense it was a dud day for the Heels. Only four Carolina players had hits; Ramirez, Zack Gahagan, Adam Pate and Brandon Riley. Ramirez and Pate each had two but no one on the team had an extra base hit. The Heels were stymied by Pitt and never really created chances to score.
Tuesday's Game: #11 Carolina 17 ECU 4 (at Greenville)
Carolina scored eight runs in the second inning to blow out the Pirates early in Greenville. Miller led Carolina with three hits, one of which was a triple. Pate, Ramirez, Tyler Lynn, Sutherland and Riley all had two hits for Carolina as eight Tar Heels scored. Ramirez and Lynn each homered for the Heels. Pate led the way with four RBIs in what was a Carolina beat-down of their instate opposition.
Cole Aker got his second consecutive midweek start for the Heels but only lasted 2.2 innings. Aker struggled with his control and allowed two earned runs with seven base runners. Bogucki relieved Aker but he only lasted 1.2 innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs. From there the Carolina bullpen took over. Spencer Trayner came in and threw 1.2 scoreless to get the win. Hunter Williams and Taylor Sugg also made appearances for the Heels.
Wednesday's Game: #11 Carolina 11 Elon 6
Carolina's offense carried the day again against the Phoenix. Adam Pate was the standout for the Heels, having three hits and three RBIs to lead the team. Brian Miller scored three times and the Heels got two hits apiece from Brandon Riley and Logan Warmoth. Carolina had three doubles and made the most of their 11 hits, scoring 11 runs and only stranding five.
J.T. Rogoszewski started for Carolina but lasted only 1.1 innings and eight batters. He allowed two earned runs and was replaced by Brett Daniels who threw 2.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing only two hits. Rodney Hutchinson then came in and allowed three runs in an inning of work. Chris McCue failed to record an out but allowed a run before Spencer Trayner finished off the inning and Taylor Sugg took the Heels the rest of the way without allowing a run.
2nd Friday's Game: #11 Carolina 11 Duke 2
Zac Gallen picked up his third win of the year in a dominant outing. He allowed only four hits and two earned runs in seven quality innings while striking out 10 on 101 pitches. Gallen allowed three of his hits in the bottom of the fourth inning when Duke hit back to back doubles before a single plated their second run which tied the game. The slip up did not rattle the Heels' ace who did not allow a baserunner for the rest of his time on the mound. A.J. Bogucki handled relief duty for the Heels, throwing no hitter over the final two innings with only one walk against four strikeouts.
The Carolina offense had been kept in check by Duke starter Bailey Clark until their third time up to bat in the sixth inning. With the game tied at two runs apiece the Heels got rolling. Tyler Lynn scored off of an Eli Sutherland single before Zack Gahagan hit a two run double. Carolina plated two other runs that inning courtesy of a Brandon Riley RBI single and a Kyle Datres RBI groundout. The Heels also scored again in the seventh and three more times in the eighth. The clear standout for Carolina was Gahagan who went 3-5 with four RBIs to lead Carolina in both hits and RBIs. Sutherland scored three times to lead Carolina and had two hits, second after Gahagan.
2nd Saturday's Game: #11 Carolina 12 Duke 2
The offense exploded right out of the gate on Friday. The Diamond Heels scored three runs in the top of the first and then five more runs in the top of the third. The Heels put together a team effort on the day as only Tyler Ramirez had more than one hit and one RBI. They exploited twelve walks from Duke pitchers and plated exactly half of their 22 base runners.
On the mound, it was another solid outing for J.B. Bukauskas. Bukauskas allowed only one run in six innings and struck out seven. However, he did allow four hits and, most alarmingly, gave up six walks which ballooned his pitch count to 110. Bukauskas still struggles with command and consistency between starts, a major flaw in the Heels' rotation and something he has to work on to help Carolina achieve marked postseason success. Carolina went to Brett Daniels and Zach Rice out of the pen and they were able to hold down the fort. Daniels came in to relieve Bukauskas and three two scoreless innings on only 25 pitches. Rice allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth but got through the inning easily enough to end the game with a comfortable 10 run lead by the Heels.
2nd Sunday's Game: #11 Carolina 8 Duke 2
On a cold and windy day the Heels finished off their sweep of Duke. Carolina once again started quickly with three runs in the top of the first and two more in the top of the third. The top of the lineup did most of the heavy lifting on Sunday as the first four hitters all scored twice to give the Diamond Heels their eight runs. Ramirez owned the day at the plate going two for two with a home run, three RBIs and three walks drawn, he reached base in all five of his plate appearances. Adam Pate led Carolina with three hits while Logan Warmoth led the team in RBIs with four on his two hits, including a triple.
Jason Morgan picked up his second win of the season throwing a rather spectacular seven innings on 104 pitches. The Sophomore allowed only five hits and one walk to go with 5 strikeouts. Hunter Williams came in to start the eighth but walked his first two batters and was pulled for Spencer Trayner who got the Heels out of the jam with two strikeouts and a groundout. Taylor Sugg came in to pitch the ninth and allowed a double which led to Duke's only two runs of the game. Sugg was never in any real danger and the Heels rapped up the series sweep with a tidy 8-2 victory.
The Heels have risen to #6 in the Baseball America top 25 and face Western Carolina at home on Tuesday before a home weekend series with Georgia Tech. The series runs Thursday through Saturday and should be a good one.The Yellow Jackets were ranked after a hot start to the season before getting swept in Tallahassee, they are currently 15-4 their only other loss a mid week home game against Auburn. The Friday and Saturday games will also be on ESPN3.