UNC’s top two starters may not have had their best stuff on Saturday, but the Tar Heels’ bats came alive over the weekend to help take two out of three games against the Virginia Tech Hokies. UNC improved their record to 41-10 overall and 21-6 in the ACC. Let’s take a look back at each of the games:
Saturday (Game One)
North Carolina 9, Virginia Tech 4
After a week off from ACC play for end-of-year exams, the Tar Heels looked to pick right back up from where they left off. UNC traveled to Blacksburg, VA looking to win their ninth ACC series in a row. They sent out their ace, J.B. Bukauskas, in the first game on Saturday (due to Friday’s rainout) hoping to get the Heels off on the right foot (pun intended).
Bukauskas did not have his best outing, as he gave up four runs in just 3.1 innings of work, and was in line for his first loss of the season. He left the game with UNC trailing Virginia Tech 4-3, but the bullpen and the UNC bats would rescue Bukauskas.
Rodney Hutchison Jr. entered the game in relief of Bukauskas and gave up no runs and only one hit in 4.2 innings of work. His strong performance helped him earn his sixth victory of the season.
Along with making a highlight reel catch in right field, Brandon Riley was the star at the plate for North Carolina. He had three hits and three RBI in the game, including a triple and his fifth home run of the season. Tyler Lynn also continued his hot hitting with a two-run home run in the 6th inning, which was all that the Tar Heels would need in the victory. They would add three additional insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning to push the lead up to five runs.
Saturday (Game Two)
North Carolina 4, Virginia Tech 8
In the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, UNC would send out their typical Saturday starter, Luca Dalatri. Similar to Bukauskas’ outing from earlier in the day, Dalatri would have a difficult time keeping the Hokies off the scoreboard.
Dalatri and the Heels fell behind early after Virginia Tech scored three runs in the first inning. He lasted only five innings, giving up eight runs and 12 hits. He left the game with the Tar Heels trailing 7-3.
After falling behind early, the top of the batting order for Carolina tried to keep the team in it. Brian Miller and Logan Warmoth scored all of the team’s runs, with Warmoth hitting his 8th home run of the season in the seventh inning. Kyle Datres and Warmoth each had three hits to lead the UNC offense.
The Carolina bullpen of Austin Bergner and Taylor Sugg was strong once again, giving up no runs and no hits in their three innings of relief of Dalatri. Unfortunately, the earlier damage done by the Hokies’ offense would be all that they needed to even up the series at one-game apiece.
North Carolina 20, Virginia Tech 0
In the final game of the series, North Carolina played a nearly perfect game in their historic and lopsided victory.
Taylor Sugg got his first career start on Sunday and pitched 3.2 scoreless innings. He didn’t get the victory, but he left the game in the fourth inning with his team leading 4-0.
The Tar Heels maintained their 4-0 lead heading into the top of the 6th inning, but they broke it open with back-to-back seven-run innings to extend the lead to 18-0. Carolina added two more runs in the top of the 9th.
Brian Miller had a monster game for UNC, going 5-6 at the plate with three RBIs and scoring four runs of his own. Zach Gahagan also had a big game with a home run and five RBI. Logan Warmoth and Kyle Datres also added home runs of their own in the offensive outburst by the Heels. The UNC batters had 18 total hits in the game.
Brett Daniels, Jason Morgan, Bo Weiss, and Zach Attianese all pitched scoreless innings in helping to secure the shutout. The 20-0 win was a historic victory for the Tar Heels, as it was the largest shutout victory over an ACC opponent in the team’s history.