Baseball: Miami Claims UNC Series
No. 4 Miami got six scoreless innings from starter Bryan Radziewski and clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title with a 2-0 win over North Carolina Saturday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park. Zac Gallen was Radziewski’s equal for much of the day, allowing just two runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings and striking out six in a losing effort. Michael Russell had two hits for the Tar Heels, who finished the regular season 32-23 and 15-15 in the ACC.
Miami (40-15, 24-6 ACC) scored once in the first and once in the fourth against Gallen and the Tar Heels. Tyler Palmer reached on a one-out triple when his bloop to right got past a diving Tyler Ramirez, and David Thompson plated Palmer with a single up the middle.
Skye Bolt almost erased the second run of the day when his strike from center after a one-out fly ball beat Thompson to the plate. But Thompson’s clean, hard slide knocked the ball away from Korey Dunbar and the Canes had a 2-0 lead.
Carolina’s best chance came in the fifth, when Ramirez and Adrian Chacon reached on consecutive singles to open the frame against Radziewski. After a failed sacrifice attempt for the first out, Russell blooped a ball in front of Palmer in left to load the bases. But Miami’s redshirt junior lefty struck out Parks Jordan and Landon Lassiter swinging to end the threat and strand three.
Bolt led off the sixth with a double to left, but he was erased on a double play when Willie Abreu’s throw from left beat him to the bag at third.
Lassiter walked with two gone in the eighth to bring on Bryan Garcia, and the Miami closer got the final four outs of the game to end it and give the Canes the ACC regular season title.
Zach Rice entered the game for Carolina in the seventh and retired all five batters he faced to keep the game close.
Tar Heels Split Pair Of Friday Night Games With Hurricanes
The North Carolina baseball team split a doubleheader with the No. 4 Miami Hurricanes Friday night after a dominating 11-2 win in game two of the series at Alex Rodriguez Park to improve to 32-22 overall and 15-14 in ACC action.
The Tar Heels rebounded impressively from a tough marathon 16-inning loss in 16 innings. Carolina scored in the top of the 16th on a Parks Jordan RBI single only to watch the Hurricanes rally for a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to snag the series opener. The game marked the longest contest for either team in 2014.
There was far less drama in the nightcap. The Tar Heels jumped all over the Hurricanes from the outset, scoring four runs in the first inning and eventually led 11-1 through four to give starting pitcher Benton Moss all the run support he could need.
Moss delivered a memorable performance by striking out nine batters and allowing just four hits en route to his fourth victory of the season.
Friday night’s win was Carolina’s third over a top-5 opponent this season. Next up for the Tar Heels comes the series decider at 12 p.m. Saturday. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
High Stakes Baseball In Coral Gables
The North Carolina baseball team, 31-21 overall and 14-13 in the ACC, is staring at its final series of the season when taking on the ACC-leading Miami Hurricanes, 38-14 on the season and 22-5 in conference, down in Coral Gables for a three-game set starting Thursday evening at 7 p.m.
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“When you’re 22-5 in this league, you’re really good. They are going to throw three left-handers at us who are really good. We’ve got our hands full. We’re certainly very capable of going down there and beating them. We’re going to have to play at a high level,” Coach Fox says.
The Hurricanes, ranked seventh nationally by Baseball America, are the hottest ballclub in the NCAA at the moment, winning 25 of their last 27 games.
The home field advantage will only make things more difficult for the Tar Heels. AlexRodriguezPark, with a seating capacity at 4,999, will surely be rocking this weekend as Miami attempts to clinch the ACC regular season title.
Despite most observers’ attentions being drawn to the struggling Carolina offense, Coach Fox insists it’s the defense and pitching staff that will ultimately decide UNC’s fate on the diamond.
“It’s still really the key for us. Everybody looks at our offense, but we didn’t pitch great against FloridaState. Still, on that defense, we’ll have some lapses at times,” Coach Fox says.
Senior Parks Jordan, who will graduate over the summer, has been an offensive bright spot for the Tar Heels in 2014, especially in recent times. Jordan was named ACC Player of the Week Monday.
“Parks has been really steady for us. Every single day he comes down to the ballpark with a really professional approach. He’s helped us win a lot of games,” Coach Fox says.
The Hurricanes hold a 30-24-1 all-time series advantage over the Tar Heels, including a head-to-head series lead of 19-9 in Coral Gables.
And just in case Carolina needed any extra incentive to win the Miami series this weekend, Coach Fox says he’d rather avoid the dreaded No.7/8 seeding next week in Greensboro that would force the Tar Heels into a playoff scenario.
A top six seeding would ensure an escape from the playoff. If the season ended now, Carolina would land in the No. 5 seeding slot, safe from the one-game elimination contest.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit unfair to our seventh seed and potentially, our eighth. Historically, those are teams that get into the NCAA Tournament. Now, you’re making them play one game on Tuesday, one-and-done. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out this year,” Coach Fox says.
Stakes are raised this time of the year. An ACC title, ACC Tournament seeding, NCAA Tournament placement and pride will all be on the line for the Hurricanes and Heels in scorching Miami beginning Thursday night.
UNC Baseball Begins ACC Tournament Play Thursday
CHAPEL HILL – The No. 5 UNC baseball team begins round-robin play Thursday as the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament against Miami.
The Tar Heels finished the season 48-8 and as the ACC regular season and Coastal Division champions at 21-7 in conference play. The Hurricanes were the final team to make it into the tournament at 35-21, 14-16.
However, Miami handed Carolina its first loss of the season in the teams’ conference opener, 4-1 in Chapel Hill. Prior to that, UNC had its second-best start in school history winning its first 16 games. And, one loss in round-robin play—especially early in the tournament—makes it that much harder to make it to Championship Sunday.
The Tar Heels finished the season on a high note defeating Atlantic Division champion Florida State in a one-game, non-conference meeting. However, Carolina dropped its final two conference series, 2-1 to Georgia Tech in Atlanta and 2-1 to Virginia in Chapel Hill.
Georiga Tech, Florida State, and Virginia are all possible opponents—as well as Virginia Tech—for Carolina if it makes it to the one-game championship on Sunday.
First pitch of game one of the tournament for Carolina is 3:00 p.m. Thursday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. You can hear all three Carolina games as well as the championship if the Tar Heels advance on WCHL and streaming here.
Tune in to the WCHL Morning News Thursday at 8:20 a.m. to hear the head coach of the Tar Heels, Mike Fox, discuss the upcoming tournament with Ron Stutts.
No. 29 Miami Hands No. 1 UNC Baseball First Loss
CHAPEL HILL – The No. 1 UNCbaseball team met its match for the first time this season as No. 29 Miami once against proved too much for the Tar Heels.
After four innings, the game remained scoreless, but Miami put three runs on the board in the top of the fifth from two hits. Junior left-handed pitcher Kent Emanuel gave up two of his three walks in the inning, both of which scored.
In the bottom of the fifth, freshman designated hitter Landon Lassiter opened the inning with a single to left field. After two wild pitches he landed on third which put him in position for freshman right-fielder Skye Bolt to knock him in. On a single to left, Bolt tallied his 17th RBI of the year and brought the deficit to two.
But, with one out in the seventh, Miami extended its lead back to three where the contest would end at 4-1.
With the decision, Miami has won 11 of the last 12 contests since the 2010 season. The Hurricanes now control the series 30-21-1.
The series continues Saturday with a 6:00 p.m. first pitch at Boshamer Stadium.