In his first game back at Boshamer Stadium since leaving his longtime assistant coaching job at UNC this past offseason, Liberty head coach Scott Jackson was triumphant against the fourth-ranked Tar Heels on Tuesday night.
The Flames (21-14) scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning against UNC reliever Rodney Hutchison on the way to a 5-2 upset victory.
Jackson’s team gave the Tar Heels (29-8) a taste of their own medicine–some big-time shutdown pitching–by holding them to just four hits throughout the night.
Tyler Lynn and Ashton McGee each hit solo home runs for UNC in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, but that wouldn’t be enough to deliver a win.
After scoring nearly 10 runs per game during their recent 11-game win streak, the Tar Heels have scored just two runs in each of their back-to-back losses.
Freshman Tyler Baum started on the mound for head coach Mike Fox, tossing four shutout innings.
Having just taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Lynn’s fourth-inning blast, UNC turned to reliever Jason Morgan for the top of the fifth. Morgan allowed Liberty to tie the game with a solo shot from DJ Artis–the first batter he faced.
The Tar Heels responded with McGee’s home run in the next half-inning, but that turned out to be the last hit they would manufacture all night long.
Liberty third baseman Trey McDyre turned the game on its head with a three-run double off Hutchison in the top of the eighth–a play that came with two outs, and gave the visitors the lead for good.
An RBI triple from catcher Jake Barbee then added an insurance run for the Flames, as they held off one of the nation’s hottest teams for their season’s signature victory.
UNC will now look to recover this weekend, when the Tar Heels travel to face Pittsburgh for a three-game ACC series.