Things were not going well for North Carolina Tar Heels baseball going into this weekend. A midweek win over Campbell improved UNC’s record somewhat, but they were still just 5-11 over their last 16 games following a 18-3 start.
A weekend series in Charlottesville against Virginia represented a chance for the Heels to get back on track, but that did not happen.
For the first time in a couple weekend series, UNC got a pretty good start out of a pitcher, but it didn’t end up mattering in the opener. Max Carlson went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, that just ended up being one too many runs.
Virginia struck first and led 2-1 after the second inning, before Carlson got going and started putting up zeroes. He retired 12 of 15 batters he faced in the third through sixth inning, the final of which saw the UNC offense even the score in the top half of the inning. Carlson came back out for the seventh, and got two quick outs before allowing a home run to UVA’s Griff O’Ferrall. He exited shortly after and the Cavaliers added another run in the eighth.
That ended up being enough for Virginia, as UNC went scoreless over the game’s final seven innings. They had chances, the biggest of which came in the sixth inning when they left the bases loaded. However, they couldn’t capitalize and dropped the opener.
While it wasn’t a great day for the offense it total, Hunter Stokely had a big day, going 3-4 with a double. As was symptomatic of the day, he may have had three hits, but was driven home after none of them.
Oh boy, what a mess of a game. For much of the game, it seemed like the game was going to play out in a similar way to Friday, as the teams exchanged runs early with UVA then taking a small lead into the final innings.
However this time, UNC fought back. Leading off the top of the ninth, Alberto Osuna homered to tie the game, which would send the game to extra innings.
Once there, things seemed to be turning around for the Tar Heels. In the top of the 10th, Carolina scored three runs, with two coming on a Mac Horvath RBI double. However, things came crashing down in the bottom half of the inning.
After a couple hits, UNC’s Gage Gillian recorded a couple outs, with the second a sac fly that cut the lead to two runs. However, a walk and a single in the next two at-bats scored another run and chased Gillian from the game. Connor Bovair replaced him, but a single later and the lead was gone. After an intentional walk, UVA’s Devin Ortiz hit a walk-off grand slam to complete a brutal, brutal loss for UNC.
The series finale wasn’t quite as heartbreaking as the first two games, but it also didn’t end any better for UNC.
The Cavaliers came out firing on Sunday, scoring seven runs in the first two innings, and putting the Tar Heels behind the eight ball immediately. While Carolina did end up putting up a couple runs, it wasn’t near enough as Virginia cruised down the stretch to a seven-run win.
Horvath had another solid day in a losing effort, recording the only two-hit game of the day, which included a home run.
The Heels were supposed to play today against a good Liberty, but expected inclement weather has rescheduled that for tomorrow. After that, they have the weekend off, which hopefully they can use it to regroup.