The wins keep on piling up for the fifth-ranked UNC baseball team, which extended its season-best winning streak to 10 games–defeating the rival NC State Wolfpack on Friday night at Boshamer Stadium by a score of 7-2.
Sophomore third baseman Kyle Datres hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, handing the Tar Heels a lead they would keep extending throughout the latter portion of the evening.
Prior to Datres’ game-changing swing, NC State lefty Sean Adler had previously held the red-hot UNC offense completely scoreless through the first five frames. Fans were treated to a tight pitchers’ duel between he and Tar Heel ace JB Bukauskas.
Bukauskas was his usual self on the mound for the Tar Heels (28-6, 13-3 ACC)–tossing seven strong innings, with six strikeouts, while allowing just one run on four hits.
Although Bukauskas has rightfully received much of the hype for UNC’s resurgence this season, junior shortstop Logan Warmoth showed Friday why he, too, was named a player to watch for this year’s Golden Spikes Award.
Warmoth went 4-for-4 at the plate, including an RBI single. The Florida native saw his batting average rise to a team-high .373, while serving as the main catalyst in the lineup all game long.
Centerfielder Josh McClain provided the first offense of the night for NC State (19-16, 7-9 ACC), when his RBI single off Bukauskas in the top of the sixth put the Wolfpack in front 1-0.
Everything flipped, however, when Datres sent the fateful 2-0 pitch from Adler over the wall in left field–scoring both himself and Warmoth.
A nearly sold-out crowd at the Bosh went crazy, while NC State turned the game over to its bullpen two batters later following a single from Brandon Riley.
The Tar Heels then took advantage of Wolfpack relievers Austin Staley and Cody Beckman for three runs in the seventh frame–RBIs from Brian Miller, Warmoth and Ashton McGee.
Sophomore catcher Cody Roberts added a two-run homer of his own in the eighth inning, as UNC made sure to leave nothing up to chance against its bitter rival.
Pitching from that point on with a comfortable lead, Rodney Hutchison and Josh Hiatt combined to close things out with minimal damage done.
NC State tacked on a single run in the top of the ninth, but by that point it was much too late.
UNC will look to continue its winning streak–and clinch the series vs. NC State–on Saturday, with first pitch set for 4 p.m.