April was not a kind month to the North Carolina Tar Heels (25-17, 8-13 ACC) baseball team.
From the start of the season through the end of March, Carolina was 19-6 and in the national rankings. A record of 5-11 in April sunk UNC to the bottom of the Coastal Division standings and reeling into the critical month of May. There may not be as critical of a series as the one this weekend as the Tar Heels travel to Raleigh to take on NC State.
Carolina started off May on the right foot Tuesday night against Charlotte. The two teams went back and forth during the first third of the game. Mac Horvath led the Tar Heels offense versus the 49ers. In the first inning, he hit a solo shot to start the scoring. Charlotte responded with a two-run home run in the second, and Horvath answered with another solo home run in the third.
In the fifth, Carolina regained the lead off a Danny Serretti two-out RBI single. His hit extended his hitting streak to 16 games, a career high.
Once again, Charlotte tied the game with another home run. The teams were scoreless in the final three innings, and fans at the Bosh were treated to some free baseball. After the 49ers were held scoreless in the 10th, Johnny Castagnozzi was walked with one out in the bottom of the 10th. Reece Holbrook was sent in as the pinch runner as Tomas Frick came to plate.
Frick took the first pitch to left center for a walk-off RBI double.
Carolina pitched by committee Tuesday night with seven Tar Heels taking the mound. Shawn Rapp appeared for the 32nd time in 42 games. He leads the entire NCAA in appearances.
What a night for a walk-off!— Carolina Baseball (@DiamondHeels) May 4, 2022
Highlights from tonight's win vs Charlotte ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ZUOFVdT5jA
NC State (29-13, 11-9 ACC) hosts UNC this weekend in Raleigh.
Although not quite at the level they were expecting this season, NCSU will be a tough test for Carolina.
While the Tar Heels were streaking in early spring, the Wolfpack was slumping during early March. Now, while UNC stumbled in April, NC State has won four in a row and built an impressive 20-5 home record on the season.
Freshman Tommy White has emerged as one of the ACC’s breakout stars this season. His hot start in February earned him the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Hitter of the Month and the first ACC Player of the Week for 2022.
In his first eight games, White had nine home runs, 29 RBIs, and hit .588. In fact, he had three home runs in his collegiate debut.
Currently, White ranks third in the ACC with 19 homeruns, fourth in slugging percentage (.762), fifth in on-base + slugging percentage (1.192) and sixth in hits (64).
The UNC pitching staff must also keep an eye on sophomores LuJames Groover III and Noah Soles.
Carolina has an advantage with their pitching staff, but they will need run support this weekend. Now is the time for UNC bats to wake up as the march to ACC Baseball Championship in Charlotte draws closer.
Below are the individual leaders for UNC:
Batting (minimum 2 PA/G and 75% of games played):
- Batting average: .348 - Angel Zarate
- Slugging percentage: .584 - Alberto Osuna
- Home runs: 13 - Alberto Osuna
- RBI: 34 - Alberto Osuna
- Hits: 63 - Angel Zarate (9th in ACC)
- Runs: 39 - Vance Honeycutt
- On-base percentage: .448 - Mikey Madej
Pitching (minimum 1 IP/G):
- ERA: 0.00 - Caleb Cozart
- Strikeouts: 55 - Max Carlson
- Innings pitched: 55.1 - Brandon Schaeffer
- Wins: 6 - Kyle Mott (T-5th in ACC)
- Saves: 4 - Caden O’Brien (T-7th in ACC)