The Diamond Heels went up to UVA over the weekend and dropped a three game series to the defending national champion Cavaliers. The Heels' only win was on Saturday when starting pitcher J.B. Bukauskas powered Carolina to a victory in his home state.
Friday's Game: UVA 7 #14 UNC 4
Zac Gallen did not have his best stuff on Friday as the Cavaliers roughed him up in 6 innings for 5 earned runs. Gallen had uncharacteristically poor control Friday, walking four and only striking out three. Errors continued to bite the Heels during this game as UVA recorded two unearned runs on the Tar Heel bullpen. Spencer Trayner, Zach Rice, Taylor Sugg and Brett Daniels made appearances for the Heels. Rice and Sugg allowed unearned runs.
On offense the Heels had few bright spots outside of Tyler Lynn. Lynn walked and went three for three including his first home run in a Tar Heel uniform. Lynn also crossed the plate three times. Eli Sutherland, Tyler Ramirez and Adam Pate were the other offensive standouts for Carolina. Sutherland had two hits, Ramirez had two walks and Pate recorded a hit and two walks on his return to the second spot in the lineup. Zack Gahagan also scored for the Heels.
Saturday's Game: #14 UNC 8 UVA 1
J.B. Bukauskas was excellent again for the Heels. Bukauskas threw seven innings of four hit, one run ball while striking out 11 on 111 pitches. Bukauskas worked through the lineup three times and was never really challenged by UVA's hitters. Brett Daniels, Cole Aker and Spencer Trayer each made relief appearances for the Heels. Aker only faced one batter, who he walked, but Carolina was never in danger after Bukauskas' strong start.
The Carolina offense was much more lively on Saturday than it had been on Friday. The Heels hit two home runs with Sutherland and Kyle Datres each leaving the yard. Sutherland had three RBIs on his blast over the fence while Datres's solo shot and Cody Roberts had the only other RBI for the Heels. Adam Pate had two hits and a walk on the day, crossing the plate twice himself.
Sunday's Game: UVA 15 #14 UNC 9
The Heels hit well again on Sunday but the Cavaliers simply had too much offense for the Heels. Carolina's pitchers combined for 13 walks on the day with starter Jason Morgan only lasting 1.2 innings. A.J. Bogucki came in relief of Morgan and took the loss to take his record on the season to 2-2. The best news for the Carolina pitching staff was the return of Hansen Butler who threw 1.1 scoreless innings and was the only Tar Heel pitcher to have neither a walk nor an earned run. The Heels have sorely missed their closer in conference play this year and hope that his return will help solidify a bullpen that has needed a bit more consistency outside of Brett Daniels so far this season.
Carolina showed up on offense for this game but this was never a close enough contest for it to matter. Brian Miller had his first hits of the weekend Sunday, breaking out in a big way to go 5-5 with one walk and a triple. Miller and Pate each scored three times to lead the Heels. Sutherland led the Heels with four RBIs with Ramirez right behind him with three. Cody Roberts also had two hits for the Heels.
What it Means:
The outcomes of each game the team plays seems to depend on which team draws more walks. When the Heels draw a lot of walks they win, but when the Tar Heel pitchers issue more walks, the team typically loses. It is a fine line that the team is trying to tread this season. After a hot start to the year, the team just isn't hitting as well as they were earlier and this has made them reliant on walks in conference play. Going forward, the Heels will either need to find more offense or will need their pitchers to be perfect every outing if they are to entertain postseason ambitions.
Home for #25 Coastal Carolina on Tuesday on ESPN3
Home for William and Mary on Wednesday
Weekend series at Wake Forest all on ESPN3