Carolina Baseball Completes VT Series Sweep

The North Carolina baseball team is rolling once again. With a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium, the Tar Heels completed a series sweep over the Virginia Tech Hokies and improved to 27-18 overall and 13-11 in league play.

With the loss, the visiting Hokies dropped to 18-25-1 on the year and 13-11 in the ACC.

Carolina was made to work in all three games of the weekend, but earned gutty come-from-behind victories in every one of them, including on Sunday, when Tyler Ramirez’s sacrifice fly sent Michael Russell across home plate in the bottom of the ninth to snatch the sweep.

The in-form Russell extended his career-long hitting streak to 17 games with three hits in the series finale as Carolina extended its head-to-head dominance against Virginia Tech. Head Coach Mike Fox’s team hasn’t lost to the Hokies since 2007.

The Carolina bullpen’s tenacity coupled with timely, opportunistic hitting provided the winning formula for a UNC team that has been searching for some momentum heading into postseason play.

The Tar Heels will next play host to East Carolina Tuesday at 6 p.m. before taking an exam break. Carolina will have revenge on its mind as the Pirates defeated the Tar Heels down in Greenville just last week.

Diamond Heels Rally By Hokies In Series Opener

The North Carolina baseball team rallied past Virginia Tech Friday night, earning a 3-2 victory to improve to 25-18 on the season and even the ACC record at 11-11.

With the defeat, the Hokies dropped to 18-23-1 on the year and 7-15 in conference play.

In the first inning, starting UNC pitcher Trent Thornton worked his way out of a jam.

Carolina’s Wood Myers was struck in the hand by a pitch in the second inning and hit the ground for a few minutes. He recovered to take his base, but he was replaced shortly after by Alex Raburn. After the game, Myers was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in one of his fingers and should be out at least four weeks.

Michael Russell recorded Carolina’s first hit of the night in the bottom of the third inning, slipping one up the line by the third baseman. But no runs would come off his efforts.

A double play for the Tar Heel defense put an end to the Hokie offense in the top of the fourth, but the Carolina bats continued to struggle against Virginia Tech slinger Sean Keselica.

A double by Virginia Tech’s Logan Bible put Thornton under pressure once again in the fifth inning with two men on base and no outs. But the sophomore displayed tremendous tenacity, escaping the inning with no damage.

The top of the sixth inning produced some more trouble for Thornton. This time, an error and a stolen base put runners on both corners with one out. And matters got worse when Keselica was walked to load the bases.

Thornton could not go unscathed to this challenge, surrendering two runs that gave the visiting Hokies the 2-0 advantage.

Adam Pate’s leadoff hit in the bottom of the sixth spurred on an offensive explosion from the Tar Heels with walks and base hits aplenty. The Virginia Tech first baseman dropped the ball on a chance for a double play. The Tar Heels cashed in with two runs to tie the game at 2-2.

Trevor Kelley replaced Thornton on the mound in the seventh inning, delivering some stress-free innings of work with the game hanging in the balance.

Pate once again found his way first base to open proceedings in the bottom of the eighth. Russell followed with a double, his sixteenth of the season.

The Tar Heels grabbed the 3-2 lead thanks to another blown chance at a double play for the Hokies.

Kelley was relieved of his pitching duties by Reilly Hovis in the ninth inning. Hovis closed out the tight contest in style to the delight of the Tar Heel faithful in attendance.

Diamond Heels Host Hokies With Targets On Backs

The North Carolina baseball team, 24-18 on the season, opens a three-game ACC series with Virginia Tech, 18-22-1 overall, Friday at Boshamer Stadium

The Diamond Heels are coming in to their matchup with the Hokies off a much needed Wednesday victory over an in-form Liberty team ranked No. 30 in the nation.

***Listen to the story***

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is in desperate need of success. The Hokies are on the outside looking in right now in the ACC race. Only the top ten squads in the league standings make the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. The Hokies sit in eleventh position while the Tar Heels check in at No. 8.

One of the keys to deciding this weekend’s series will be Carolina’s run support for its pitching staff.

Head Coach Mike Fox says UNC’s offensive catalyst runs through the hard working Michael Russell.

“He started off a little slow – just trying a little bit too hard. He’s kind of settled in and is playing with a lot of confidence. He’s such a hard worker and very detailed-oriented. He wants to win,” Coach Fox says.

Coach Fox says freshman slinger Zac Gallen’s struggles from the mound this year are surprising considering how well he performed in the lead-up to the 2014 campaign.

“What’s funny about Zach is that in the fall, he didn’t walk a batter. He was the best strike thrower on our team. He’s hit a little rough patch there where he hasn’t had the command,” Coach Fox says.

Carolina’s up-and down season may have a lot to do with the extreme youth and inexperience on the roster. But Coach Fox and the players aren’t making any excuses.

Coach Fox says his guys have to be fired up and ready to compete at the highest level every outing, especially due to the name on the front of their jerseys.

“Us being the state school and obviously our history, we got a target on us no matter what. If you don’t like Carolina, you generally dislike Carolina. That’s the case. But I think once the game starts, it’s just kids competing against one another,” Coach Fox says.

The Tar Heels will have another opportunity to defend their home turf this weekend for what is shaping up to be a beautiful three days at Boshamer Stadium.

Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia Tech 64-23-2 and has not lost to the Hokies since way back in 2007.

Make It Eleven! Carolina Escapes Virginia Tech 60-56

The North Carolina men’s basketball team eased past Virginia Tech 60-56 Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg to improve to 22-7 overall an 12-4 in conference play.

***Listen to the story***

With the loss, the Hokies fell to 9-19 on the season and 2-14 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels struggled to find their form early on, falling behind 16-11 with 9:49 on the first half clock, but the shots started falling with electric plays by Marcus Paige and J.P. Tokoto.

UNC maintained a six to eight point lead for most of the second half of play, eventually salting away the victory with some great hustle plays and some timely makes by James Michael McAdoo.

“Virginia Tech’s zone defense really gave us problems. We didn’t get the kind of movement we’d been getting nor did we shoot the ball as well. A week ago we shot 70 percent from three and all this kind of stuff. We didn’t do it very well today and didn’t make free throws down the stretch either. You got to congratulate them for their defense bothering us,” Coach Williams says.

***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame remarks***

McAdoo led the scoring charge for the Tar Heels with 15 points while Leslie McDonald provided a nice contribution with 14 points despite major struggles from the free throw line down the stretch.

As for the Hokies, Jarell Eddie led the way with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the tenacious Tar Heels.

The Hokies won the opening tip, but failed to convert. The Tar Heels wasted no time getting on the board with a Kennedy Meeks score inside.

Leslie McDonald popped a three-pointer to push Carolina out to a 5-0 lead with 18:10 to play in the opening half. McDonald then pushed it to the rim for an easy layup to increase the advantage out to 7-0.

McDonald dribbles around a VT defender (Todd Melet)

McDonald dribbles around a VT defender (Todd Melet)

Virginia Tech started to find some holes in the UNC defense and made a couple baskets to close the gap down to 9-4 with 15:10 to play in the half.

Trevor Thompson knocked down a jumper to close the margin down to three at 9-6. And after a Carolina score, Thompson went back to work to narrow the gap back down to 11-8 with 12:30 to go in the half.

The game was locked up at 11-11 with the first Hokie three-point make of the game. Virginia Tech spurted ahead to a 16-11 advantage with 9:49 left on the first half clock.

Carolina went through a stretch of shooting 1-10 from the field to allow Virginia Tech to seize the momentum of the contest in Cassell Arena.

The Hokie defensive intensity was definitely making life difficult for the Tar Heels in the first half.

McAdoo flew into the paint and finished with a beautiful dunk to reclaim the lead for the Tar Heels at 17-16 with 6:19 to play. And it was 10 unanswered points when J.P. Tokoto took off with an aerial assault that pushed the lead out to 21-16.

Marcus Paige darted inside and pulled up for jumper that went through the nets. Carolina took the 23-19 lead with 3:02 to play in the first half.

McDonald got a couple more points added to the scoreboard on a goal tending call on Virginia Tech to push the UNC lead out to 28-21.

As both teams jogged into the locker rooms, Carolina held the 28-21 lead at Virginia Tech.

The halftime stat sheet read in favor of the Tar Heels with UNC shooting at 38.7 percent clip from the field while Virginia Tech only managed to knock down 32 percent from the floor.

Carolina’s  Leslie McDonald led the way with seven points while Hokies Devin Wilson and Thompson each posted four points.

Carolina wasted no time to score in the second half, but Virginia Tech responded on the other end, and the scoreboard read 30-23 with 18:45 to play in the game.

McDonald swished a three-pointer from behind the arc to extend the lead out to 34-25 with 16:02 left in the contest.

McAdoo matched a Johnson three-pointer with a make on the other end to keep UNC’s nose in front. The Tar Heels maintained a 36-28 advantage with 14:10 to play.

Wilson drove to the rim and drew a foul to get sent to the free throw line. He converted on both foul shots to cut the lead down to 36-33 with 12:48 to play.

Virginia Tech tied it up at 36 points with a long-range three-pointer to ignite crowd. Tokoto answered for the Tar Heels to nudge them out in front 39-36.

Tokoto stepped up again with a physical conversion in the paint. to push the Tar Heel advantage out to 42-36 with 9:45 to play in the game.

Tokoto soaring (Todd Melet)

Tokoto soaring (Todd Melet)

Virginia Tech cut it to within two points at 42-40, but McDonald knocked down a big three-point shot to keep Carolina up 45-40 with 8:02 to play.

****Listen to the call by Jones Angell of the Tar Heel Sports Network***

Paige scored an insurance bucket for Carolina to extend the lead out to 47-40. McAdoo fed off the energy and in an instant, UNC had gained a more comfortable 49-40 advantage.

McAdoo hit a deep jumper to keep the Hokies at bay and continue the offensive surge for the Tar Heels. But Virginia Tech responded with a three-point play. The Tar Heeld led the Hokies 51-45 with 5:06 left in the game.

McAdoo came up with another impressive play to improve his tally up to 13 points and give the Tar Heels the 55-47 lead with 2:30 to play.

Carolina was able to salt away the road victory to record an eleventh straight win.

Next up for the Tar Heels is a return to the Smith Center to take on Notre Dame Monday night.

Click here for full game photo gallery.

Final Box Score

No. 19 Carolina Visits Blacksburg In Search Of Eleventh Straight Win

The No. 19 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 21-7 on the season and 11-4 in the ACC, will be looking for win number eleven in a row Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg when it meets Virginia Tech, 9-18 overall and 2-13 in conference play.

***Listen to the story***

Coach Williams reflects on the classic encounter between his team and N.C.State over in Raleigh Wednesday night.

“Marcus was just unbelievable in the second half. I told our guys I didn’t know what to say. Heck of a basketball game if you’re are just a fan. The problem is we’re not just fans; we care about how our team does. We thought we’d just given one away, then all of a sudden at the end, feel like we’ve stolen one,” Coach Williams says.

The Tar Heels will have to be road warriors again this weekend. The 2:30 p.m. tip in Cassell Arena will pit one of the hottest teams in the nation against one of its most struggling squads.

The Hokies have lost 13 of their last 14 games, but the streaking Tar Heels would do well not to overlook them.

Last season, Virginia Tech gave Carolina a scare, pushing the Tar Heels to overtime in Chapel Hill before UNC was able to finally pull away, snagging the 72-60 victory.

Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige says it’s important for him to be aggressive and take the ball to the basket in the waning minutes of games.

“Once it comes crunch-time, when you’re in the bonus you have to attack. You can’t afford to shoot contested jump shots. You have to put pressure on the refs and put pressure on the defense to try to make something happen,” Paige says.

Coach Williams says Paige is a gamer, saving his best for the big-time moments when everything is on the line.

“He’s a confident youngster. He’s a tough youngster. He’s competitive. He’s willing to try to make plays. One night in high school he scored like 18 points in less than three minutes. It may have been less than one minute. I don’t know. It was just weird. He’s a competitive rascal. He doesn’t mind taking shots when they really mean something,” Coach Williams says.

With just two more games remaining on the regular season schedule following the Virginia Tech contest, the banged up Tar Heel players can now see the finish line.

Fighting for the ball. (Todd Melet)

Fighting for the ball. (Todd Melet)

Paige says the season is definitely wearying, but that he’s been taking extra precautions to limit his fatigue as much as possible. However, Paige says Coach Williams has little mercy for his players when it comes to the long season.

“I do stuff every day with our strength coach and our trainer – stretching every day. It’s a long season, especially with the extra practices we had at the beginning of the year. Coach Williams will always say we’re 18, 19, and 20 years old. We can do this. This is what we do,” Paige says.

Carolina finished 8-0 in the month of February, making it the fifth time in the last 50 years the Tar Heels have gone undefeated in February. But the calendar has flipped to March. UNC will be hoping to start off this new month 1-0 on Saturday.

No. 11 Carolina Women Fall Flat Against Virginia Tech

The No. 11 North Carolina women’s basketball  team couldn’t overcome a sluggish start and lost to Virginia Tech 50-47 Sunday afternoon at Carmichael Arena, dropping to 21-7 on the season and 9-5 in the ACC.

***Listen to the story***

With the upset victory, the Hokies improved to 13-14 overall and 3-11 in conference action.

“We’re not going to use an excuse that we’re young. We’re talented. We should’ve played better than we did. Even though Virginia Tech had something to do with this, we still did not play as good as we could play and it’s my responsibility to get them to that level,” Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says.

After a slow beginning that saw the Tar Heels fall behind 19-7 just eight minutes into the contest, Carolina turned on the defensive intensity and used a 13-0 run to grab the edge at 20-19 with 3:49 on the first half clock.

From there, the Tar Heels faced a tough battle in the second half with Stephanie Mavunga and Xylina McDaniel hooking up for scoring plays to fill the void of an off day for freshman sensation Diamond DeShields.

Danielle Butts provided a nice spark with two key baskets that helped Carolina capture the lead midway through the second half, but the Tar Heels could not hold on down the stretch against Virginia Tech.

DeShields struggled on the day, finishing with only eight points while Xylina McDaniel led the team with 13 points. Overall, Carolina shot a woeful 27 percent from the floor.

Vanessa Panousis led the scoring charge for the Hokies with 24 points, matching her career high.

Thanks to early turnovers and some hot shooting, the visiting Hokies raced out to a 12-point lead at 19-7 with 12 minutes to play in the opening half.

A couple baskets from DeShields kept Carolina in the contest as Xylina McDaniel popped in a score in transition to snap the Tar Heels back to attention.

Brittany Rountree made a nice streak around the basket for a score. McDaniel followed that one up with a three-point snipe that closed the Tar Heels within three points at 19-16 with 8:53 remaining in the half.

McDaniel eyes the rim. (UNC Athletic Comm)

McDaniel eyes the rim. (UNC Athletic Comm)

Mavunga worked her way to the foul line and knocked down one of the attempts to continue UNC’s surge. Carolina tied the game up at 19-19 with 4:34 before halftime.

With 3:49 on the first half clock, Allisha Gray made a free throw to break the tie and give Carolina the 20-19 edge. It was a 13-0 run for the Tar Heels as their defense was clamping down on the Hokie offense.

In the lowest scoring half for the Tar Heels this season, the score stood at 25-24 in favor of Virginia Tech.

The start of the closing half was all Hokies as they spurted out to a 30-24 advantage with 17 minutes remaining.

Carolina was finding it hard to find the nets until Gray knocked down a pair of free throws to break the cold spell.

But with 15:56 to play, the Tar Heels were trailing 32-26 to the last-place Hokies.

Mavunga scored inside on a layup to close the gap down to four points as the urgency was picking up in the contest. Virginia Tech responded, though as Campbell knocked down a jumper to push the Hokies back up 34-28 with under 14 minutes remaining.

Rountree worked her way to the line with some physical play. She got both shots to fall to trim the lead down to four points once again.

An explosive play by Danielle Butts ignited the crowd and tied the game at 36 points with under 11 minutes to go.

Gray scored her first basket of the day to give UNC the 38-36 advantage with 9:30 on the clock. The defensive pressure from the Tar Heels was giving the Hokie offense fits, generating turnovers.

Butts provided another boost with a dash to the basket and a score to continue the upward swing of momentum for Carolina.

DeShields scored her first points of the second half at a perfect moment to maintain the Tar Heel lead in the closing minutes of the game. Carolina led 43-41 with 4:59 to play.

Trailing by one with 2:47 to play, the Tar Heels committed a careless turnover on a pass out of bounds to hand the ball to the Hokies.

Crucially, DeShields was fouled on a three-point attempt in the late stages that cut the Virginia Tech lead down to a single point with 55 seconds to go in the game.

Panousis was sent to the line for Virginia Tech to give the Hokies the 48-45 advantage. McDaniel then made a two-point play to bring UNC to within one at 48-47 with 7 seconds remaining.

After a pair of Panousis free throws, Carolina’s three-point try was no good. Virginia Tech pulled off the massive upset.

Next up for the Tar Heels is a road trip to No. 2 Notre Dame Thursday.

Click here for the game photo gallery.

Final Box Score

Tar Heels Look for Fifth Straight Win in Home Meeting with Hokies

The No. 11 Carolina women’s basketball team, 21-6 overall and 9-4 in the ACC, will host Virginia Tech, 12-14 on the season and 2-11 in conference, Sunday at 2 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.

Last time out, Carolina went on the road to Charlottesville and hung on for an 80-74 triumph while Virginia Tech claimed a win over Pittsburgh.

After averaging more than 30 points and putting up two season high nights of 30 and 38 last week, the Cavaliers held Diamond DeShields in check Thursday night, only allowing her seven points.

Against UVA, Carolina was led by Allisha Gray who scored 18 while Stephanie Mavunga recorded a double-double with 17 points and ten rebounds.

The Hokies come into the contest in last place in the ACC standings, but the Tar Heels want to be sure to maintain their focus and continue to build on their four-game winning streak.

No. 15 Volleyball Wrapping Up Regular Season at Carmichael

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 15 Carolina volleyball team is ready to finish out their regular season in style with a visit from a pair of teams they’ve beaten earlier in the season.

The 22-3 Tar Heels are 11-3 in conference and face 20-8 Virginia Tech Friday night at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Carolina will take on the Cavaliers of Virginia for Senior Night. UVA is 15-11 overall and 8-6 in league play.

Carolina will honor Kaitlyn Anderson, Kayla Berringer and Jovana Bjelica before Saturday’s match.

Admission is free to both matches at Carmichael Arena and GoHeelsTV will broadcast the action online.

Road Warriors: Tar Heel Volleyball Completes Weekend Double

CHAPEL HILL– The No.13 Tar Heel volleyball team conjured up some Saturday night magic.

The Tar Heels rallied from a 2-1 deficit to earn an impressive 3-2 road victory over Virginia Tech Saturday to cap off a successful weekend in the state of Virginia.

The star performer was Jovana Bjelica with 17 kills on the night to lead Carolina to the rally.

Carolina downed the Cavaliers of Virginia the night before in three straight sets. With the pair of wins, UNC improved to 18-1 overall and 7-1 in conference action.

Next up for the Tar Heels comes a return to Chapel Hill next weekend, facing Maryland on Friday at 5 p.m. prior to Late Night with Roy at the Dean Smith Center.

Hokies Passing Offense Downs Tar Heels, 27-17

BLACKSBURG, VA – UNC played better, but the results were painfully similar as the Tar Heels fell to the Virginia Tech Hokies 27-17 Saturday in an ACC clash at Lane Stadium.

Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas tossed three touchdown passes, all in the first half, helping his team build a 21-7 lead it wouldn’t relinquish in improving to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in ACC play.

The Tar Heels drew within 14-7 in the second quarter as sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams hit Eric Ebron for a 6 yard scoring strike at the 9:09 mark. Williams started in place of Bryn Renner, who sat after suffering an undisclosed injury in last Saturday’s drubbing to ECU in Chapel Hill.

Despite a solid effort in which he completed 23 of 35 passes for 277 yards with two scores and two interceptions, Williams couldn’t help the Tar Heels from falling to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC.

Williams was also the team’s leading rusher, not necessarily a good thing, in collecting 57 yards on 18 carries. The Hokies defense, ranked among the nation’s best in several categories coming into the contest, was as good as advertised in holding the Tar Heels to 100 yards rushing at just 2.6 yards per attempt.

Virginia’s Tech’s offense did enough to win the contest, with Demitri Knowles snaring the first touchdown grab and D.J. Coles collecting his second on a 5 yard reception with 2:44 remaining in the opening half as the Hokies took a 21-7 lead into the break.

The Tar Heels put together an impressive drive in the third quarter but settled for Thomas Moore’s 36 yard field goal to cut Virginia Tech’s lead to 21-10. The drive was thwarted when the Heels got a bit fancy on a reverse attempt the Hokies snuffed out for a loss.

Troy Edmunds sealed the contest for the Hokies with a 1 yard scoring run with just 4:06 remaining, making Quinshad Davis’ 24 yard touchdown catch with 1:09 left academic.

Trailing 27-17, the Tar Heels attempted an onsides kick that was gathered in by Virginia Tech. UNC committed 11 penalties, continuing their “flag football” Saturday theme for the season but enjoyed a bright spot defensively in holding the Hokies to just 48 yards rushing on 34 attempts.