Flames Extinguished by UNC Baseball
Clutch performances from freshmen hitters lifted Coach Mike Fox and his 11th ranked UNC baseball squad to a 6-4 road win Monday night over the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Tar Heels were able to recover from their loss on Sunday and improve to 7-3, while Liberty drops to 6-4.
Third baseman Logan Warmoth continued his impressive first year campaign with an RBI single smacked to left-field right out of the gate. The hit drove in junior Landon Lassiter to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. He also drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth inning for his second RBI of the game.
Warmoth’s classmate, and roommate, first baseman Zack Gahagan, blasted his first career home run with a solo shot to lead off the fourth.
On the mound for the Tar Heels was yet another freshman, 6’3″ lefty Hunter Williams, who was making his first career start, however he went just two innings and allowed one earned run before handing the ball off to the bullpen; an effort to save arms with four more games scheduled this week.
Trevor Kelley was outstanding against Liberty, going 5.1 innings in relief before allowing a runner to reach base. (Daily Tar Heel)
UNC quickly recovered after an infield error and a wild pitch let Liberty tie game in the bottom of the first, snatching the lead in the second behind back-to-back triples from the speedsters, Adam Pate and Brian Miller, as both men were able to score, giving Williams the lead back (Miller’s also a freshman).
Once Liberty scored another run in the bottom of the second, it was a senior, reliever Trevor Kelley (1-0), who came in and dominated, baffling Flame hitters the rest of the night. He went 5.1 innings before allowing a runner to reach base, picking up the win and throwing just 41 pitches in the process.
In just his third at-bat of his own freshman season, all of them as a pinch hitter, Ryder Ryan doubled down the left field line in the top of the seventh, scoring Alex Raburn and providing yet another RBI for the Tar Heel young guns.
Trent Thornton came on to replace Kelley with one out in the eighth after another throwing error, wild pitch combination allowed Liberty to close the gap to three.
Much like in the two wins against Rhode Island last weekend, the junior from Charlotte was able to record five outs en route to earning his third save of the season, but it didn’t come easy. He walked Liberty’s pinch hitter Nick Walker and allowed a double to shortstop Dalton Britt. A wild pitch let Walker score and bring the tying run to the plate for the Flames.
Thornton didn’t back down though, as he brought out his bulldog mentality and retired the next two batters to end the game.
Carolina is scheduled to face VCU on Wednesday at 3 P.M in their return to Boshamer Stadium. The game was originally set for Tuesday, but was moved due to rain and cold temperatures in the forecast. Wednesday’s high temperature is supposed to be near 70 degrees.
- Freshmen combined for five of UNC’s six RBI for the game (Warmoth- 2, Gahagan- 1, Miller- 1, Ryan-1)
- Liberty recorded just three hits on the day, but scored four runs with help from three Tar Heel errors
- Carolina got help defensively with two double plays on the night
- UNC went 4-11 (.364) at the plate with two outs
Suspensions Pulling Focus From Liberty
UNC football head coach Larry Fedora says he can’t help but worry that this week’s focus on an off-the-field incident has taken some of his player’s focus off of Liberty.
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“You know me, I worry about every kind of thing that could be a distraction,” Coach Fedora says. “But, I know this: we’ve got a large amount of players on this football team that have worked their rear ends off for a long (time) to get to this point. So, it would be a shame and a tragedy to let any kind of distraction to keep you from playing at your best. So, that’s my job is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Wednesday’s announcement of four suspensions removes cornerbacks Des Lawrence, M.J. Stewart, and Brian Walker, as well as Donnie Miles from the season opener against the Flames.
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Coach Fedora says he’s confident those suspensions won’t limit what the Tar Heels can accomplish this weekend.
“We’re not going to change the game plan or anything,” Coach Fedora said. “We’ve got other guys that have been preparing to play in those positions all, also, so now there’s just less depth defensively and on special teams. A couple of guys may have to move around a little bit to help us in some positions, but we’ll get it covered.”
No. 23 North Carolina and the FCS Big South’s Liberty kick off at 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Kenan Stadium. Pregame coverage on WCHL begins at 3:00 p.m. with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts presented Stanley Martin Homes live from Franklin Street on the lawn of University United Methodist Church. That will be followed by The Good Sports with Art C and BobLee before we send it off to the Tar Heel Sports Network at 5:00 p.m.
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No. 1 UNC Baseball Tops Liberty With Help From Colin Moran Grand Slam
CHAPEL HILL – The No. 1 UNC baseball team blew past Liberty with a grand slam by its homerun leader to take win number 31 on the season, 7-5 Wednesday night at the Bosh.The Flames are one of just a few teams to have an early lead on the Tar Heels this season, but that lead didn’t last long. The 1-1 tie after three was taken over by Carolina in the fifth when junior Colin Moran hit his team-leading eighth homerun, a grand slam that batted in freshman Landon Lassiter, junior Brian Holberton, and freshman Matt Campbell.
The Tar Heels added a security run in the sixth and one in the seventh, and despite four runs by the Flames in the top of the ninth, took the 7-5 decision.
With the win, North Carolina improved to 31-2; Liberty fell to 18-16.
The Tar Heels return to ACC play this weekend with a three-game series against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. That contest will be joined in progress at 6:00 p.m. immediately following the WCHL Evening News with Aaron Keck.