One of the best ever (and one of my favorites), Nolan Ryan, once said:
One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.
The North Carolina Tar Heels had a tough week, and are barely keeping their heads above .500. Their series loss to Louisville dropped them from most polls, and the loss versus Gardner-Webb will not help for next week. With one of the top hitters in the ACC coming to Chapel Hill this weekend, the Tar Heels must reach down and prove something if they are to remain in the conversation as a contender in the ACC.
Here is a breakdown of UNC rankings in the major polls:
- D1Baseball.com Top 25: NR
- NCBWA: 26
- Baseball America: NR
- USA Today Coaches Poll: NR
- RPI: 18
Take a look at the latest results and updated record:
UNC Baseball Results - Week 4
|3/9/2018||at Louisville||L 4-5||7-6|
|3/10/2018||at Louisville||L 4-6||7-7|
|3/11/2018||at Louisville||W 10-3||8-7|
|3/13/2018||vs. NC A&T||W 1-0||9-7|
|3/14/2018||vs. Gardner-Webb||L 0-1||9-8|
In the opener versus Louisville, Carolina struck first in the second inning. Shortstop Ike Freeman brought in designated hitter Ashton McGee on a single to center. In the next at bat, centerfielder Dylan Enwiller reached on an infield single that scored second baseman Zack Gahagan to give UNC a 2-0 lead.
Louisville stormed back in the sixth, scoring three on a triple down the right field line. The teams went back and forth in the seventh and eighth innings, each scoring one run in their half of the innings. A wild pitch by Cooper Criswell allowed the eventual winning run to score, giving the Cardinals the 5-4 victory.
On Saturday, the Tar Heels started the scoring in the third, including a RBI by third baseman Kyle Datres.
Louisville responded to UNC’s 2-0 lead by scoring three runs in both the third and fourth innings, and those six tallies were enough for victory.
Carolina attempted to get back in the game in the late innings. In the sixth, catcher Brandon Martorano hit a RBI double, and Ben Casparius as a pinch hitter scored Michael Busch on a RBI single.
In the top of the ninth with UNC down 6-4, Busch hit a deep shot with a runner on base, but the potential game tying home run was caught at the warning track to end the game.
In the series finale, UNC’s bats came alive in the late innings, handing Louisville their first loss of the season.
Freeman started the scoring in the top of the second with a RBI single to score Roberts. Louisville answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning, and another two runs in the third. Gahagan hit a sac fly in the fourth to bring UNC within one a 3-2.
In the seventh, Gahagan brought the Heels even on his RBI double. In the next at bat, center fielder Dylan Enwiller brought in Gahagan to push UNC ahead 4-3.
The next inning is when Carolina sealed the victory. Freeman brought in two with the bases loaded, then Gahagan had this third RBI on the day on a double. Freeman scored on a wild pitch, then right fielder Brandon Riley hit a RBI double to push the Carolina lead to 10-3.
Here are the highlights from their 10-3 victory, via UNC Athletics:
Carolina hosted NC A&T on Tuesday afternoon, and the game was dominated by junior right hander Rodney Hutchison. Hutchinson threw a complete game shutout, allowing just four hits and one walk. He struck out seven.
The lone Tar Heel tally came in the fifth. Martorano walked, and two batters later, Gahagan’s infield groundout scored Martorano.
On Wednesday, Gardner-Webb shutout the Tar Heels 1-0. Although the Bulldogs only managed three hits, one of those was a solo home run in the second. UNC only had five hits in what was only the second victory all-time for Gardner-Webb over Carolina.
Below are the team leaders for UNC.
- Batting average: .333 - Kyle Datres
- Slugging percentage: .625 - Brandon Martorano (T-10th in ACC)
- Home runs: 5 - Brandon Martorano (T-4th in ACC)
- RBIs: 21 - Michael Busch (3rd in ACC)
- Hits: 24 - Kyle Datres (T-5th in ACC)
- Runs: 13 - Kyle Datres
- On-base percentage: .416 - Michael Busch
- ERA: 0.00 - Josh Hiatt (T-1st in ACC)
- Strikeouts: 30 - Tyler Baum (T-9th in ACC)
- Innings pitched: 22.0 - Tyler Baum
- Wins: 2-0 - Tyler Baum and Brett Daniels
- Saves: 2 - Josh Hiatt
This weekend, the Tar Heels host their first conference series of the season when Pitt comes to town.
The Panthers (11-4) lost their opening conference series last weekend in similar fashion as UNC. On the road against Virginia Tech, Pitt dropped the first two games of the series in low scoring affairs, while winning the final game with an offensive explosion.
Junior third baseman Liam Sabino leads Pitt in nearly all offensive categories, including batting average (.364), home runs (6), RBIs (16), slugging percentage (.764) slug, on-base percentage (.486) , runs (18), and hits (20). He is tied for second in the ACC in home runs, third in slugging percentage, tied for fifth in runs scored, tied for eighth in RBIs, and tenth in on-base percentage.
If you are coming out to the Bosh for a game this weekend, the highs will be in the low 60s on Friday and Saturday with clear skies. On Sunday, there is a chance for rain in the morning with a high of 58.
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day, and fans are encouraged to bring bottled water, chewing gum, beef jerky, and granola bars to donate to the USO of North Carolina:
Don't forget that this Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at the Bosh! pic.twitter.com/W1qCDYpDw9— Carolina Baseball (@DiamondHeels) March 15, 2018
Here is the upcoming schedule for the Diamond Heels:
UNC Baseball Upcoming Schedule
|3/16/2018||6:00 PM||vs. Pitt|
|3/17/2018||4:00 PM||vs. Pitt|
|3/18/2018||1:00 PM||vs. Pitt|
|3/20/2018||6:00 PM||vs. Maryland|