The game was going to be tied.
It was the bottom of the 7th inning, and Carolina was holding a precarious 3-2 lead. Josh Hiatt was dealing with a man on third and one out, a run already in thanks to a couple of passed balls. After the Cougars’ Kyle Lovelace had failed to get a good sacrifice bunt down, he seemed to accomplish his goal by hitting a fly ball out to right, which would have allowed Cooper Coldiron to tag up and knot the game.
Carolina’s right fielder, Josh Ladowski, had other ideas.
The Mooresville junior threw a strike from right field, one hopping at the plate right into the mitt of Cody Roberts. Roberts just had to turn and apply the tag to the sliding Coldiron, and Carolina was able to preserve their 3-2 lead.
The tag was the difference in the game as Carolina held on to beat Houston 4-3 on Saturday night in Boshamer Stadium.
Gianluca Dalatri picked up the win, pitching five innings, giving up one home run on four hits, fanned three, and only gave up one walk. While his speed was down compared to last weekend (h/t to D1baseball.com’s Aaron Fitt), Houston still had trouble connecting. Brett Daniels pitched an inning before Hiatt came in to earn a three inning save. The 7th was rocky for Hiatt, but he settled in to sit Houston down quickly in the 8th, and didn’t let a homer rattle him in the 9th as he quickly retired the last two Houston batters.
Zach Gahagan got Carolina on the board early with a two run smash in the second. The early runs helped, as Houston starter Trey Crumble gave the Cougars seven strong innings. The Heels were able to manufacture a run both in the third and ninth, a good sign as they earned just their seventh win when they score five runs or less.
Carolina now advances to Sunday night where they await the winner of the Houston-Purdue elimination game at 1. A victory there will move them on to next weekend’s Super Regional. The Tar Heels look to be in great shape as Hiatt is the only reliever who has pitched more than one inning in the first two games.
The Diamond Heels are also the only ACC team that doesn’t have to worry about elimination on Sunday. FSU is already eliminated, Clemson and Louisville suffered their first loss on Saturday while Duke and NC State won their Saturday elimination games to move to the Sunday elimination game.
First pitch at Boshamer is scheduled for 6 PM, pending the weather.