The UNC baseball team took a trip to the beach Wednesday night, but was washed away by one of the nation’s most powerful lineups.
Tar Heel pitchers surrendered three home runs–including two to designated hitter Gavin Stupienski–which proved to be the difference in a 6-2 road loss to the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.
Freshman right-hander Rodney Hutchison got off to a shaky start on the mound for UNC, which set the tone of the game right from the get-go.
The 6-foot-6 Ohio native allowed back-to-back jacks to Stupienski and catcher Nick Feight as part of a four-run first inning by UNC-Wilmington.
In total, UNC had to use six different pitchers after Hutchison was pulled following the early onslaught.
UNC-Wilmington (34-11) entered Wednesday with the second highest batting average in America–hitting .335 as a team. The Seahawks used their bats to make easy work of the inconsistent Tar Heels, as they improved to 19-2 over their last 21 games.
Steven Linkous drove in a run in the fourth inning with an RBI single, while Stupienski also homered in the fifth inning to make it 6-1 in favor of UNC-Wilmington.
Coming off a big win at home Tuesday over No. 21 East Carolina, UNC (31-18) was led offensively by senior second baseman Eli Sutherland’s fifth home run of the year–a solo shot in the eighth–but struggled to produce with runners in scoring position.
Just two times in 14 tries did UNC pick up a base hit with a runner on second or third base, despite having 10 hits in the game–which was actually two more than UNC-Wilmington had.
Not only that, the Tar Heels put the lead-off man on base in five of the nine innings, but failed to put a runner on third with less than two outs at any time during the night.
Eight players recorded a hit for UNC, but Sutherland was the only one to record an RBI since Adam Pate scored the first run of the game for the Tar Heels by way of a throwing error.
The Tar Heels had one final opportunity when they brought the tying run–freshman Kyle Datres–to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded.
Unfortunately for head coach Mike Fox and his team, UNC-Wilmington continued making the timely plays–as the Seahawks snuffed out the threat to end the game–getting Datres to fly out to left.
It was the final mid-week contest of the season for UNC, which now must close out ACC play with a bang over the next three weekends in order to ensure a spot in the postseason–something nobody thought would be an issue after a red-hot 18-2 start.
Missed opportunities have come to define the second half of the Tar Heels’ season. With just six games remaining, UNC doesn’t have much time to find a solution.
It’s now or never.
UNC returns home to Boshamer Stadium for its final home series this weekend. The Tar Heels be out for revenge against Notre Dame, which swept them in South Bend last season.
UNC baseball head coach Mike Fox–with his Tar Heels mired in a slump that has lasted throughout the month of April–challenged his team to be tougher.
After a back-and-forth affair which lasted nearly four and a half hours on Tuesday, they showed their coach’s message was taken to heart–ending UNC-Wilmington’s 12-game win streak with a 10-9 victory at Boshamer Stadium courtesy of freshman Kyle Datres’ walk-off walk.
Facing a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs, the Pennsylvania native held strong and allowed UNC-Wilmington reliever Jared Gesell do the work for him.
“Bases loaded, all the pressure’s on him,” Datres said after the game. “He has to throw it in the zone. I saw him struggling, so I went up there with a patient approach and made him have to bring one to me.”
Now 27-15 this season, the Tar Heels desperately needed to pick up a quality win to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.
They needed it so badly, in fact, that their coach stepped out of character to make a bold statement before the game.
“I went in the locker room, and I said ‘To heck with it, I need to tell them how it really is,'” Fox said. “We gotta win.
“As a coach you really gotta be careful saying that,” he continued. “But I mean, that’s the position that we’re in.”
Fox also had to set a player aside and let him know he wouldn’t be in the starting lineup.
Yep. Datres. The one that ended up winning the game.
“I called him in the locker room–and I don’t hardly ever do this–but I challenged our team about being tougher and then he’s not in the lineup,” the coach said.
“He’s one of our toughest players, both mentally and physically,” Fox added. “So I called him in and I said ‘Hey, listen I want you to know you’re not in there because I think you’re better right now off the bench for us.'”
Armed from the top-down with extra motivation from its coach, UNC–which scored just seven runs all weekend while getting swept at Wake Forest–racked up six runs in the first inning against UNC-Wilmington starter Justin Crump.
The Seahawks (27-10) and their explosive offense weren’t going to let the nation’s longest winning streak end that easily, though. Facing 6-foot-6 righty Jason Morgan they stormed back for a six-run inning of their own in the third.
Once the score was 6-4, the Tar Heels sent Brett Daniels to the mound for Morgan, but Joe Bertone tied it up by sending Daniels’ first pitch over the wall in left-center field for a two-run bomb.
Both teams traded runs the rest of the way, with UNC-Wilmington eventually taking a 9-8 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
That’s when Datres was able to make his mark.
Entering as pinch hitter, the Pennsylvania native tied the game in the eighth when his RBI single brought home Tyler Ramirez.
Left in to play third base, Datres would again get his name called in crunch time–only on this occasion it was the bottom of the ninth, there were two outs and the bases were loaded.
UNC-Wilmington reliever Jared Gesell worked a 3-2 count against the freshman, but Datres remained calm and watched ball four sail outside.
Moments later, an elated Tar Heel bench stormed the field to mob the man who started the game amongst them.
Now UNC will look to find consistency over the final month of the regular season, and if they do–it’s quite likely the team will single out Tuesday night as a turning point.
In a must-win game, where toughness was needed more than ever to get the job done, the Tar Heels were able to take care of business.
UNC continues its seven-game homestand at the Bosh with a game Wednesday against Campbell. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
It is also the Tar Heels’ off-week from ACC play, which means they will not play on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Skye Bolt homered in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie, while little used pitcher AJ Bogucki provided the Diamond Heels with an unexpected boost on their way to a 7-2 victory over the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks on Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium.
With the crucial non-conference victory, the Tar Heels jump to 32-19 on the year, and also send the Seahawks to their fourth straight loss–which drops the visitors’ record to 33-16.
Although Bolt’s home run swung the momentum over to the home dugout for good, it was Bogucki that provided the story of the night.
“When [pitching] Coach Forbes told me yesterday that I [was getting] the ball on the mound today, I was super pumped,” says Bogucki, “I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes to kinda pick up after last weekend.”
Both teams came into Tuesday’s match-up as victims of weekend sweeps, with the Tar Heels putting together their longest losing streak of the season when they were swept by Notre Dame.
Even crazier, Bogucki had thrown just 10.1 innings this season prior to this game, but head coach Mike Fox and his staff decided to start the Pennsylvania native on the mound in favor of freshman left-hander Hunter Williams, a mid-week starter in each of the past seven weeks, due to Williams’ recent struggles–which include going just 2.2 innings on April 22nd at UNC-Wilmington in the first match-up between the teams this year.
He did not disappoint either, holding steady against the Wilmington lineup for five innings while allowing just two runs on three hits–striking out eight hitters in the process.
Teammates helped Bogucki’s cause when they scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning–one on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Logan Warmoth and the other by way of a Landon Lassiter RBI single–giving him some necessary breathing room against all of the scrappy bats in the Seahawk dugout.
Not until there were two outs in the top of the third did Wilmington pick up its first hit of the night against Bogucki, even though they came into the game batting .306 as a team (For some perspective no player on UNC has a batting average that high).
Aided by a highly effective slider, the sophomore also struck out six Seahawks over the first three frames–forcing the batter to swing for strike three each time.
However, he found a bit of trouble in the top of the fourth after he walked first baseman Corey Dick, because the next man he faced, designated hitter Joe Bertone, drilled a game-tying two-run homer which just barely stayed fair as it slipped over the fence in right-field.
But the Tar Heels’ hottest hitter as of late, junior center-fielder Skye Bolt, did his part to make sure his pitcher’s efforts wouldn’t be wasted.
Facing a 1-0 pitch from Seahawk reliever Jared Gesell, Bolt caught it with the sweet spot of his bat, sending the ball over the right-field wall for a solo home run that put his team back out in front.
“Any time you reclaim the lead after they tie it up, they had a little momentum, they had some base runners on…it’s good to get your team back on top,” says Bolt.
For the sixth inning Coach Fox made the move from Bogucki to lefty reliever Zach Rice, who presented a distinct matchup advantage against a Wilmington batting order stacked with seven left-handed hitters.
Rice got out of the frame only having to face three batters, but was pulled from the game in the seventh after allowing a lead-off single to Seahawk pinch-hitter Zach Canada.
The next man up out of the Tar Heel bullpen was senior Trevor Kelley, still the 2015 NCAA relief appearance leader, and also a Wilmington native.
Kelley got out of the inning by getting Kennard McDowell to ground into a double play, before striking out right-fielder Zach Shields two hitters later to keep UNC out in front.
Carolina was then able to extend the lead in their half of the seventh when Wilmington mishandled a potential double play ball in the field, allowing freshman designated hitter Brian Miller to come to the plate with the bases loaded. Miller then smacked the first pitch he saw over the heads of the infielders, bringing two more runs in for the home team.
With Kelley still cruising on the mound in relief, the Tar Heel bats decided to come out and put up another pair of runs in the eighth–just for good measure. Tyler Ramirez’s double brought home Logan Warmoth, with Ramirez later scoring on Landon Lassiter’s second RBI single of the night, all but ensuring a Carolina victory.
After tossing a scoreless ninth, Kelley was credited with a three-inning save, earning his third save of the year while his Tar Heels completed a 2-0 season sweep of his hometown school.
The win was UNC head coach Mike Fox’s 1300th of his career, truly a mind-boggling achievement.
Fox’s focus after the game, though, was on Bogucki, saying that not only was it the best he’s seen the sophomore pitch, his performance also could not have come at a better time for this team.
“We’ve seen him in practice, we’ve seen him in the fall, and we’ve told ourselves [the coaching staff] that ‘it’s in there, but when’s it gonna come out?’ “, says Fox, “And boy did it come out at the most opportune time for us, and the most critical time for us. He pitched well.”
The Diamond Heels will stay in Chapel Hill this weekend for their final conference series of the regular season, as they are set to host the Virginia Cavaliers for a three game set which will run from Thursday through Saturday, instead of the usual Friday through Sunday schedule. All of those games will still be broadcast live on WCHL’s airwaves.
Coming off a disappointing weekend series at Notre Dame where they were swept for the first time all season long, the UNC baseball team looks to regroup in this, the final week of the regular season. The first chance they’ll get comes Tuesday, as the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks make a visit to Boshamer Stadium for a rematch of a game the Tar Heels won 6-5 in 12 innings back on April 22nd.
The two teams come in to the match-up with fairly similar overall records, with UNC sitting at 31-19, while the Seahawks are at 33-15.
In addition, each squad is riding a three game losing streak after the weekend, with Wilmington being swept also by No. 18 College of Charleston.
Last time the Tar Heels and Seahawks got together it was in Wilmington, and the game took nearly five hours to complete–with Carolina tacking on the winning run when right-fielder Tyler Ramirez scored on a 12th inning balk.
It’ll be important for the UNC pitchers to get back on track after giving up an average of seven runs per game to Notre Dame over the weekend, especially trying to recover against a tough Wilmington lineup that features five everyday players hitting .300 or better.
Although freshman Hunter Williams has been the Tar Heels’ normal mid-week starting pitcher, his recent struggles—unable to make it through three innings in his last three starts–may prompt head coach Mike Fox to make a switch.
Either way, this game holds serious NCAA tournament implications for each team, as they battle for seeding position coming down the stretch.
First pitch on Tuesday is set for 6 p.m., with starting pitchers yet to be announced.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-and-seahawks-set-for-battle
Trent Thornton struck out pinch-hitter Joe Bertone in the bottom of the 12th inning to close out a 6-5 road win for the #23 UNC baseball team over its top 25 opponent, the #22 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks–with Carolina right-fielder Tyler Ramirez scoring on a balk earlier in the frame to break the tie.
Suddenly the surging Tar Heels find themselves with a solid 26-15 record, as they hand the red-hot Seahawks just their ninth loss of the season, putting them at 28-9 overall.
Thornton (3-4) pitched the final 2.2 innings, all in extras, without allowing Wilmington to record a hit, while UNC-W reliever Justin Crump (0-1) ruined a fantastic bullpen effort by his teammates with his late, game-changing balk coming at the end of a night that looked like it would turn into a slug-fest.
Coming off a strong birthday performance the night before, UNC catcher Korey Dunbar got the ball rolling with a two-out, two-run single off Wilmington starting pitcher Evan Phillips in the top of the first–giving freshman left-hander Hunter Williams a two-run cushion before he had to throw his first pitch.
The Seahawks manufactured one run in the bottom of the first, but it looked like that may not be enough with the way Carolina came out swinging the bats.
Skye Bolt’s single in the top of the second scored freshman Zack Gahagan, and was followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Landon Lassiter, making it appear as if the Tar Heels were poised to break things open.
Switching pitchers didn’t look like it did anything for UNC-W in the next inning, as reliever Austin Magestro allowed Carolina second baseman Eli Sutherland, who came in to the game batting .197, to double home Dunbar and give the team in light blue its fifth run of the game.
Despite looking unhittable over his last four starts on the mound for the Tar Heels, Hunter Williams couldn’t hold onto the big lead against the toughest lineup he’s faced this year. Wilmington scored three runs in the bottom of the third to close the gap to one–ending Williams’ day after just 2.2 innings, with the big man striking out three, walking three, and being credited with earned runs for all four of the Seahawks’ tallies.
And in the very next inning, UNC-W catcher Gavin Stupienski got the better of Carolina’s top reliever, senior Trevor Kelley, for a game-tying RBI single to make it a whole new ball-game in the blink of an eye.
From then on, though, the bullpens for both sides settled down immensely.
UNC’s relief duo consisting of freshman Hansen Butler and sophomore lefty Zach Rice surrendered just four hits combined and held the Seahawks scoreless over the next 4.1 innings, while the Tar Heel offense also fell flat–getting just two hits and no runs over the final six regulation frames, ensuring the fans in Wilmington would see some extra baseball.
As both teams continued to put up zeros in the score column, drama ensued in the top of the 11th, when Skye Bolt was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double–ultimately resulting in some arguing, and the ejection of coach Mike Fox.
Despite not scoring in the 11th, the Tar Heels were granted another opportunity in the 12th–resulting in the game winning balk. They were put in the position thanks to the fantastic effort in relief from Thornton, who came on with one out in the tenth, and did not allow a hit the rest of the way, striking out three Seahawks on his way to the victory.
The Diamond Heels return home this weekend as ACC play winds down in 2015, with the Boston College Eagles visiting Boshamer Stadium for a three game series beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The No.30 North Carolina baseball team put an end to its six-game losing streak with a 9-4 victory over UNC-Wilmington Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium to improve to 16-12 on the season.
With the loss, the Seahawks dropped to 12-14 on their 2014 campaign. It was a tight game until the sixth inning, when Skye Bolt and Adrian Chacon both homered to post three runs for the Tar Heels.
Tom Zengel drove in three runs of his own and eight Carolina players contributed hits to ignite the offense.
Freshman Zac Gallen started on the mound for the second game in a row after not even lasting through the first inning in the finale against Duke on Sunday. Gallen put in a much more efficient performance Tuesday before relinquishing the pitching duties to Reilly Hovis in the fourth.
Hovis improved to 5-1 in relief efforts with 3.1 scoreless innings.
Next up for the Tar Heels is an ACC series at Boston College. First pitch on Friday on is slated for 2:30 p.m.
The No. 30 North Carolina baseball team, 15-12 on the season, will be aiming to halt a six-game losing streak Tuesday evening when UNC-Wilmington, owning a 12-13 record, visits Boshamer Stadium for a 6 p.m. first pitch.
The Tar Heels were swept for the first time since 2010 with three losses last weekend on Duke’s campus. UNC-W is coming off a split of two games at James Madison.
Carolina owns a 53-13 all-time series lead over UNC-W, including a 16-4 mark under head coach Mike Fox.
Last season, Coach Fox recorded career victory No. 1200 against the Seahawks.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/struggling-diamond-heels-carry-six-game-skid-tuesday-game
***Listen to the recap***
With the win, Carolina improved to 10-3 on the season while UNC-W dropped to 6-9.
The Tar Heels came into this contest with a little more motivation and determination, getting its offense going and delighting the Tar Heel faithful with some electrifying baskets around the rim against the defenseless Seahawks.
The leading scorer for UNC was James Michael McAdoo with 23 points, but J.P. Tokoto thrilled the crowd with stunning aerial assaults on the basket. Tokoto finished with 5 points while Brice Johnson provided a nice offensive boost with 15 points.
The Tar Heels won the opening tip-off, but a J.P. Tokoto jumper fell just short. But he earned a trip to the free throw line on an ensuing possession and netted one of two to score the first points of the game.
Carolina was playing some aggressive defense early on to bog down the Seahawk offense. Nate Britt knocked down a floater to stake UNC to a 3-0 lead with 16:30 on the first half clock.
A foul on McAdoo sent Cedrick Williams to the charity stripe with 15:22 left in the half. And Williams made both.
McAdoo responded with a pair of quick buckets highlighted by an explosive dunk to give UNC a 7-2 lead. Isaiah Hicks joined the scoring fray with a make of his own soon after.
The shared scoring continued as Brice Johnson nailed a solid jumper to extend Carolina’s lead to 12-5 with 11:03 left in the half.
Leslie McDonald slashed one through the nets to give UNC the 14-9 lead with under nine minutes to go in the half. And the Carolina defense continued to play hard, although aided by some poor shooting from UNC-W.
A timeout was called with 7:23 left to go in the half. Carolina was cruising along with a double-up score, 18-9.
McAdoo ran the distance of the floor on a breakway layup that pumped up the quieter than normal Dean Dome crowd. Paige followed that up with a long-range three that found nothing but net to give the Tar Heels a 23-13 lead with 3:40 left in the half.
Williams pummeled his way back to the line for UNCW and made the point after attempt. UNC’s Johnson answered right back with a quick score though, and McDonald drew a foul to put up another point on the scoreboard that then read 26-16 in favor of Carolina.
At the 1:52 timeout, the Tar Heels maintained a 28-16 advantage. UNC was beginning to pick up the offensive pace. Johnson scored inside out of the timeout and drew a foul, converting on the free throw to extend his team’s lead to 15.
At the half, UNC went into the locker room up 31-23. UNC was shooting 40 percent from the floor while UNCW was shooting at a mere 25 percent clip.
James Michael McAdoo was the leading scorer for Carolina at the half with eight points while Cedrick Williams led the way for UNCW with 12 points.
The second half saw UNC increase its intensity level and click on all cylinders offensively with varied plays and a distribution of points throughout the team. Tokoto’s explosive dunk fired up the Dean Dome.
With 12:20 to play in the game, Carolina held a 49-32 lead over Buzz Peterson’s team.
Paige knocked down a shot to stake Carolina out to a wide 51-32 advantage. The lone bright spot for the Seahawks was Williams, who continually forced the action inside.
McAdoo was proving to be a dominant force in this contest as he scored again to give UNC a 57-37 lead. But the loudest roars were reserved for Tokoto with his high-flying, acrobatic slams.
McDonald popped his trademark three to extend the UNC lead out to 64-37 with 7:06 left on the clock.
McAdoo continued his strong play down the stretch, getting to the free throw line and exerting himself inside. Johnson continued to add some offensive support of his own, pushing the Tar Heel lead out to 76-43 with 4:30 remaining in the game.
In the end, Carolina was far too much for the overmatched Seahawks. UNC played like the ACC season was upon them. Carolina faces Wake Forest Sunday.
Click here for box score.http://chapelboro.com/unc-mens-basketball/tar-heels-ring-new-year-style-smack-seahwaks
CHAPEL HILL– The 9-3 North Carolina basketball team will be looking to polish up its play Tuesday in a 5 p.m. New Year’s Eve match-up with 6-8 UNC-Wilmington.
***Listen to the story***
No. 19 UNC will be welcoming back one of its own in the form of Buzz Peterson, the head coach for the Seahawks. Peterson was a member of the 1982 national championship squad under Dean Smith and then assistant coach Roy Williams.
But Head Coach Roy Williams will not be in the mood to do any favors for Peterson in Carolina’s final non-conference game of the season. He says he was disappointed in the defense and the lack of attacking mentality in the win against Northern Kentucky on Friday.
“I was not pleased defensively, on the backboards or attacking the basket. We had a tremendous size advantage, and one of our goals was to attack the basket. We didn’t get a single low-post up or taking the ball to the basket the entire first half. I was pretty frustrated with that,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says he hopes the cause for the erratic play is immaturity because he knows it can be corrected.
“I hope it is because maturity means that we can get there. Lack of maturity now means that we can get there eventually, so I hope that’s what it is. We are an extremely young club, but also we’ve played 12 games. We’ve got to be able to bring it,” Coach Williams says.
Senior guard Leslie McDonald’s return to the lineup has been a welcome boost to UNC’s outside shooting. Coach Williams says McDonald’s ability to knock down shots will come in handy later in the season.
“Leslie does have an ability to shoot the ball. That really helps us, and it’s hopefully going to help us even more down the line,” Coach Williams says.
Junior forward Desmond Hubert says the Tar Heels need to start playing with the same effort and intensity against the lower-ranked teams in order to establish a consistent identity on the squad.
“We’ve won big games, and then we’ve had a few letdowns. I think our biggest thing is just trying to get our effort. We’re just trying to sustain the same effort that we have in the big games. […] Just because they’re not a top-25 team doesn’t mean that it should be less important. We’re just trying to establish more effort in those games,” Hubert says.
Tuesday’s ‘Happy Blue Year’ game in Chapel Hill will be the third overall contest between Carolina and UNC-W. The Tar Heels lead the series 2-0.http://chapelboro.com/unc-mens-basketball/happyblueyear-smith-center-tar-heels-seahawks
CHAPEL HILL–No. 11 North Carolina dropped a 1-0 decision to UNC-Wilmington Tuesday night at Fetzer Field.
A scoring strike in the 36th minute by UNC-W’s Jordan Cordero proved to be the only goal necessary in the match.
Carolina controlled possession throughout the contest, holding a 16-4 advantage in shots. Missed opportunities became the trend of the night for the Tar Heels – a recurring theme for Carolina all season.
UNC-W only had one shot in the entire second half, but UNC failed to convert on any of their scoring looks.
The loss drops Carolina to 5-3-5 overall and 2-1-5 in the ACC. Next up for the Tar Heels is a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-w-pulls-off-tar-heel-upset