The baseball season started with a lot of promise. UNC won a series at UCLA, swept Oklahoma State at home and even rolled a top ten South Carolina team 15-0 in a midweek game. However, ACC play has taken a nasty turn for the Tar Heels and with the remainder of the schedule including some tough match-ups, making the ACC Tournament might be an issue.
UNC started league play 5-1 with a series win over Pitt and sweep of Duke. The Heels lost five of the next six salvaging just one game against Georgia Tech and being swept by Miami. On the surface that didn't seem to be a huge problem since UNC has always struggled with the Yellow Jackets and Miami is one of the best teams in the country. Being swept in Coral Cables, while not ideal also wasn't that damaging.
The Heels bounced back with a series win over Virginia Tech which probably should have been a sweep. UNC left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th and trailing by one. It appeared UNC has stopped the ACC bleeding a bit UNC was 8-7 in ACC play and followed the series win vs the Hokies with the beatdown of the Gamecocks in Charlotte. The hope was the Tar Heels had endured a rough patch and could perhaps get back on track.
Not so much. UNC lost three of its next four going 1-2 at Virginia and dropping a home contest to Coastal Carolina. After drubbing William and Mary 17-2 in the midweek game on April 20th, UNC traveled to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest. The Tar Heels promptly got swept with Friday starter Zac Gallen falling to 4-4 after giving up 3 runs on the way to a 6-1 loss in the opener. A pair of one run losses(5-4 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday) sent the Heels tumbling to 9-12 in ACC play and in precarious position for one of the ten slots in the ACC Tournament. Based on current NCAA Tournament projections, UNC is still safe in that regard but if the struggles in ACC play continue that could change.
Following the sweep at the hands of Wake Forest, UNC beat UNCW 10-9 then Campbell 9-4 before heading into the exam break. Following the exam period, UNC resumed play this past Tuesday with an 11-0 win over VCU to extend the win streak to three games.
Now the Heels face a rather perilous nine game ACC slate starting this weekend with #9 Louisville coming to Chapel Hill. This is just the second time UNC has meet the Cardinals in ACC play since the latter joined the league. Louisville beat UNC 7-4 during the ACC Tournament last season. The Cardinals are 36-9 overall and 14-7 in ACC play. Louisville dropped two of three at Boston College two weeks ago winning the final game of the series and has won six straight coming into tonight's game.
Zac Gallen(4-4, 2.62 ERA) will get the start tonight versus Brendan McKay(8-2, 2.44 ERA) with J.B. Bukauskas(6-1, 3.10 ERA) matching up against Drew Harrington(9-1, 1.63 ERA) on Saturday. Mike Fox has not announced who will face Louisville's Kyle Funkhouser(5-3, 4.41 ERA) on Sunday.