The Rammys: Top Tar Heels Honored, Spiffy Uniforms Unveiled

The best and brightest in Carolina athletics were recognized Monday night inside Carmichael Arena. Once again, the blue carpet was rolled out for The Rammys and this time, new uniforms came with it.

It was a star-studded evening full of memories, highlights and laughs.

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The new-look Rammy trophy designed by former UNC gymnast Zoya Johnson (UNC Athletics)

The new-look Rammy trophy designed by former UNC gymnast Zoya Johnson (UNC Athletics)

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham took to the Alexander Julian argyle-themed stage to highlight the community, athletic and academic achievements of the last year.

Kennedy Meeks in action (Nick Vitali)

Kennedy Meeks in action (Nick Vitali)

Jones Angell, the Voice of the Tar Heels, quipped a few jokes in his emcee duties and sophomore men’s basketball forward Kennedy Meeks brought the house down with his rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’.

The famous Chapel Hill IP3 pizza was delivered to the hungry audience and the UNC coaches got their groove on to the popular song ‘Shake It Off.’

But through it all, the glittering gold Rammy trophies were the most coveted prize for the hundreds of Tar Heel student-athletes in attendance.

Male Breakthrough Athlete went to UNC football walk-on Mack Hollins, who came out of nowhere to electrify the Kenan Stadium crowd last fall.

Mack Hollins burst on the scene in 2014 (

Mack Hollins burst on the scene in 2014 (

His female counterpart was star volleyballer Ece Taner, who grabbed the gold for her outstanding contributions to Joe Sagula’s ACC championship-winning team.

The awards for ACC Scholar Athletes went to field hockey’s Loren Shealy and senior baseball pitcher Benton Moss.

Benton Moss (UNC Athletics)

Benton Moss (UNC Athletics)

Freshman hoopster Justin Jackson took home the Rammy for Outstanding Newcomer, while teammate Marcus Paige earned Best Play honors for his thrilling buzzer beater against Louisville.

Best Upset went to the men’s lacrosse squad. Coach Joe Breschi’s bunch is currently ranked in the top five in the nation.

The night’s biggest winners, however, were tennis phenoms Jamie Loeb and Brayden Schnur. Each took down the top prize as Most Outstanding Athletes.

2015 UNC Football uniforms (UNC Athletics)

2015 UNC Football uniforms (UNC Athletics)

But the biggest news of the night may have been the unveiling of the new #OurBlue Nike uniforms. In an effort to rebrand and add consistency to the uniforms of all 28 sports, UNC teamed with Nike to release the new gear.

“We are excited to once again partner with Nike, one of the most recognizable brands in the world, to help us refresh and refine our marks and logos,” AD Bubba Cunningham says. “The changes are subtle, but they celebrate our history and create consistency as we further seek to distinguish our brand.  This is our blue and we’re proud of it.”

Diamond Heels Face Campbell Test

After a surprise series split with Virginia Tech this past weekend, the #23 Diamond Heels return home to Boshamer Stadium with a 24-15 record, which will be put on the line Tuesday for an in-state showdown with the 25-15 Campbell Fightin’ Camels.

Uncharacteristic struggles by UNC starting pitchers Zac Gallen and JB Bukauskas in Blacksburg almost cost Carolina a pair of crucial ACC wins against the Hokies, however the offense fought back for a tight victory on Saturday to position the Tar Heels in sole possession of second place in the ACC’s Coastal Division–also ensuring that head coach Mike Fox would not lose a series to Virginia Tech for the first time in his illustrious career.

Gallen, who threw a complete game the week before at home against NC State, allowed six runs in six innings against the Hokies on Friday, while Bukauskas, a freshman, hadn’t had a start go less than 4.2 innings in his entire career before Saturday, when he lasted just two innings and gave up seven runs.

Cole Hallum could present the Tar Heels with some unique challenges on Tuesday night. (

Cole Hallum could present the Tar Heels with some unique challenges Tuesday night. (

During recent mid-week games, though, the Carolina starting pitching has been lights out behind the left arm of freshman Hunter Williams. Over his last four starts, all during the middle of the week, Williams has thrown 24 innings, allowing just two runs and 10 hits combined.

If Williams is on the mound Tuesday night against the Camels, he’ll take on a team that has had great success throughout the season, but also one that is mired in the midst of a five game losing streak.

Campbell split two games with Virginia Tech back in February, and can also claim a road victory at Duke on March 31st, showing they’re capable of defeating ACC competition.

The main threat to the Tar Heels is the Camels’ junior outfielder Cole Hallum, who has 10 home runs and 34 RBI this year, while also picking up seven saves as the team’s closer. This high level of play earned Hallum National Player of the Week honors earlier in the year for his performance during the week of March 16.

First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday. The starting pitchers have yet to be announced.

Tar Heels Round Out Exciting Regular Season

A busy Tar Heel sports weekend secured a couple exhilarating ACC titles, produced heartbreak on the lacrosse field and saw history made on the Chestnut Hill tennis courts.

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Indeed, it was a wild few days for Carolina athletics starting with one for the record books Friday at Boston College.

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

The No. 1 Tar Heel women’s tennis team put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season by beating the Eagles, 5-2, and in the process, became the first ACC school in history to make it through the treacherous league slate unscathed.

Despite Jamie Loeb’s shocking three-set upset at No. 1 singles, Carolina showed off its depth by fighting past the pesky Eagles with commanding victories at No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles.

UNC head coach Brian Kalbas says the Tar Heels have been on a mission this season.

“This is the kind of team I don’t think would benefit from a loss going into the postseason. I really think this team benefits from winning and getting that motivation that we could do something special,” Coach Kalbas says.

UNC will now turn its attention to Cary Tennis Center for the start of the ACC Tournament this weekend. The Tar Heels will be the No. 1 seed and heavy favorites to take the title for the fifth time in seven years.

But the sweetness of victory is often born out of the bitterness of defeat. The Carolina men’s lacrosse team suffered the latter Saturday afternoon.

The Tar Heels surrendered three goals in the final 1:15 of the contest to fall short in heartbreaking fashion.

What’s worse, the 15-14 defeat to No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend handed the ACC regular season championship to the Fighting Irish.

The second-ranked Tar Heels have some time to regroup before meeting Syracuse Friday in the ACC Tournament semifinals at PPL Park at 8 p.m. in Chester, PA.

Their female counterparts, however, were not to be denied the title of champions.

Sammy Jo Tracy gets all fired up (UNC Athletics)

Sammy Jo Tracy gets all fired up (UNC Athletics)

Friday night at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium, the No. 2 UNC women’s lacrosse team downed its hated rival, 12-6, to claim the ACC regular season title for the sixth time and improve to 13-2 overall, 6-1 in league action.

Sammy Jo Tracy wasn’t the only Tar Heel to record a hat trick against the Blue Devils. Aly Messinger joined her teammate in that accomplishment.

Caylee Waters started the game in goal for Carolina and picked up the win thanks to three saves and only giving up four scores.

Head coach Jenny Levy’s Tar Heels open up their ACC Tournament campaign Thursday as the top seeds.

With the regular season now in the books for most spring teams in Chapel Hill, the excitement and promise of the postseason awaits – where dreams become reality.

And these successful Tar Heel players and coaches will be dreaming of hardware – ACC and national championship trophies.

Tar Heel Baseball Outlasts Virginia Tech in Wild 11-10 Win

Brian Miller’s sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning broke a 10-10 tie, and helped the #23 Tar Heel baseball team pick up a wild 11-10 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Carolina moves to 24-15 on the season, with an even 10-10 mark in the ACC, while the loss sends the Hokies back to 19-21 overall and 8-12 in the conference.

On a day that included three bases loaded hit-by-pitches, four multiple run rallies, 14 walks, and saw neither starting pitcher make it longer than two innings, UNC held on at the end thanks to Miller’s sac fly and a strong 4.1 inning relief performance from Trent Thornton (2-4).

Brian Miller's eighth inning sacrifice fly provided the difference. (UNC Athletics)

Brian Miller’s eighth inning sacrifice fly provided the difference. (UNC Athletics)

Like a young kid on a swing-set, this game was back and forth all day long.

In a rather bizarre turn of events, the Tar Heels scored four runs in the top of the first inning without even getting a hit against Virginia Tech starting pitcher Jon Woodcock. After getting the UNC lead-off man, Miller, to fly-out to begin the game, Woodcock walked the next five men he faced, and then hit the sixth–allowing Skye Bolt, Landon Lassiter, and Tyler Ramirez to come all the way around and score.

Woodcock was then done for the day after picking up just one out, with the junior credited with a fourth earned run in the frame when Carolina freshman shortstop Logan Warmoth hit a sacrifice fly off his replacement, Chris Monaco.

The Hokies were not rattled though, as they answered back immediately against super freshman JB Bukauskas with four runs of their own.

Four of their first five batters reached base against Bukauskas, with left-fielder Erik Payne’s two-run single cutting the lead in half, before first baseman Brendon Hayden’s second two-run homer in as many days erased the whole thing, making it a whole new ball-game tied at four apiece–after just one inning.

Brendon Hayden hit a two-run homer for Virginia Tech on Friday, and then again on Saturday. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Brendon Hayden hit a two-run homer for Virginia Tech on Friday, and then again on Saturday. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Crazily enough, the teams each tacked on a few more runs in the third in similar fashion, with the Hokies eventually snatching the lead and chasing Bukauskas from the game.

In Carolina’s turn at the plate Chris Monaco hit Tyler Ramirez with a pitch, allowed a single to Korey Dunbar, and walked Joe Dudek–all with the bases loaded–to put the UNC small-ball attack in business.

Second baseman Eli Sutherland hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Ramirez, and then Dunbar scored on a sacrifice bunt by Logan Warmoth, because of a fielding error on Virginia Tech catcher Andrew Mogg at home plate, putting the Tar Heels back in front– even though they had amassed their six runs with just one hit.

But the Brendon Hayden show was not done yet, as the 6’6″ senior out of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin followed a pair of no-out walks with a game-tying two-run double. Hayden would then score to put his team ahead on another RBI double, this one by designated hitter Sean Keselica.

Seven runs was enough for UNC head coach Mike Fox to end the shakiest start of Bukauskas’ young career after just two innings.

UNC second baseman Eli Sutherland had three RBI on the day, two coming from bases loaded hit-by-pitches. (UNC Athletics)

UNC second baseman Eli Sutherland had three RBI on the day, two coming from bases loaded hit-by-pitches. (UNC Athletics)


He replaced the freshman with his go-to relief man, senior Trevor Kelley, who allowed another run to cross the plate before getting out of the inning– on a controversial bases loaded hit-by-pitch call, which ended up getting Coach Fox ejected from the game, after Fox unsuccessfully argued that Tech’s Mac Caples was not hit, but actually tipped the ball foul.

So of course, the Tar Heels went ahead and put together a rally for their leader.

Loading the bases in the top of the fifth with no outs, Carolina got one run back on Skye Bolt’s ground-out, and then followed up with a two-run single to left-field by Landon Lassiter. The inning wasn’t done until the Tar Heels scored a fourth time after Eli Sutherland was plunked by reliever Luke Scherzer (1-3) for the third bases loaded hit-by-pitch of the game, swinging momentum back into the visiting dugout yet again.

The Hokies got one run back in their next time at the plate, when center-fielder Saige Jenco drove in a run to make it 10-9, but that play spurred the Tar Heels to pull Trevor Kelley in favor of Trent Thornton, who put an end to the fifth with UNC still ahead.

Keeping with the theme of the game though, Virginia Tech made sure to tie the game against Thornton in the bottom of the sixth on Sean Keselica’s second RBI of the day–making it an outrageous 10-10 tie entering the seventh inning stretch.

Finally though, the game would be decided, when Eli Sutherland doubled off Scherzer to lead off the Tar Heels’ eighth inning effort, and later scored on Miller’s sacrifice fly, while Thornton settled down after the sixth to pitch three straight scoreless innings to keep the Hokies offense at bay the rest of the game–earning a crucial win for his team–and avoiding the first series loss to Virginia Tech since Mike Fox took over as head coach in 1999.

Up Next:

The series rubber match is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m, with Carolina senior Benton Moss (5-0, 3.25 ERA) set to take the mound. Virginia Tech’s starting pitcher is yet to be announced. The game will be shown on ESPN3 and broadcast live on WCHL.

Game Notes:

  • Prior to today, JB Bukauskas’ worst start was against UCLA, currently ranked #3. In that, just his second career start, Bukauskas lasted 4.2 innings and gave up five earned runs.
  • Brendon Hayden extends his Virginia Tech team lead in home runs with today’s being his ninth of 2015.
  • Freshman infielder Zack Gahagan, who has started in 30 of the Tar Heels’ 39 games, was not in the lineup,with junior Alex Raburn getting the start at third base.
  • Virginia Tech’s pitchers hit five Tar Heel batters and walked 10.


Hokies Stun UNC Baseball: Just Second Loss to VT in Fox Era

On the strength of a five-run sixth inning, the Virginia Tech Hokies rallied to defeat the #23 UNC baseball team by a score of 8-3 on Friday night for a surprise upset victory in Blacksburg, Virginia at English Field.

Coming into the game, UNC head coach Mike Fox boasted a 27-1 record all-time against Virginia Tech, but on this night the Hokies’ huge inning gave them their elusive second victory against Fox. Their last win over Carolina came in 2007.

The Tar Heels fall below .500 in the ACC with the loss, dropping to 9-10 in the conference, while their overall record slips to 23-15. Virginia Tech jumps to 8-11 in the league and 19-20 in total after the big win.

Zac Gallen cruised through the first five innings, but found trouble in the sixth. (UNC Athletics)

Zac Gallen cruised through the first five innings, but found trouble in the sixth. (UNC Athletics)

Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Hokies struggled to string together hits against UNC starting pitcher Zac Gallen (2-3) through the first half of the proceedings–but everything changed when shortstop Alex Perez stepped to the plate to lead things off.

Perez hit a solo shot to tie the game, giving new life to the Virginia Tech dugout.

Then the floodgates opened up.

Erik Payne singled in the next at-bat, before immediately coming home on a home run by first baseman Brendon Hayden. When Sean Keselica singled to mark the fourth consecutive hit for the Hokies, Gallen’s outing was done.

Coach Fox turned to his NCAA leader in relief appearances, senior Trevor Kelley, to try and get out of the inning without any more damage, but two wild pitches by Kelley, along with an RBI single by third baseman Ryan Tufts, led to two more Hokie runs–with the Tar Heels all of a sudden finding themselves in a four-run hole.

Leading the charge for UNC on offense was junior left-fielder Landon Lassiter, who went 3-5, with an RBI triple in the top of the seventh, which scored Skye Bolt and brought Carolina back within three.

Landon Lassiter accounted for three of the Tar Heels 10 hits on Friday. (UNC Athletics)

Landon Lassiter accounted for three of the Tar Heels 10 hits on Friday. (UNC Athletics)

However, that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

A two-run double by the Hokies’ second baseman Sam Fragale off of UNC reliever Spencer Trayner in the bottom of the seventh increased the lead to five, where it would stay until the finish.

Two scoreless innings from Luke Scherzer and Aaron McGarity kept the Tar Heels from putting up a late game fight, allowing singles to Brian Miller and Skye Bolt, but nothing more–sealing the upset win for the home team.

Up Next:

Carolina gets a chance at redemption in Game Two of the series on Saturday, as they’ll send freshman phenom JB Bukauskas (3-1, 2.68 ERA) to the mound to face off with Virginia Tech left-hander Jon Woodcock (2-2, 3.66 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on WCHL’s airwaves.

Game Notes:

  • Tyler Ramirez doubled in the top of the third inning off of Tech starter Kit Scheetz (2-1), scoring Landon Lassiter to give the Tar Heels the first lead of the game.
  • Virginia Tech’s Alex Perez, who homered to begin the sixth inning rally, went 2-4 with two RBI, also driving in a run with a double in the bottom of the third.
  • Tar Heel pitchers struck out only two batters for the entire night (Gallen and Kelley each had one).
  • UNC continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 1-11 in that situation on Friday.

ACC Race Heats Up As UNC Baseball Visits Virginia Tech

As one of five teams tied at 9-9 in the ACC, the UNC baseball team hopes to distance itself from the crowd this weekend, heading to Virginia Tech to face the Hokies in an important three-game conference series.

Overall, the Tar Heels are 23-14 this season, while Virginia Tech is 18-20, with a 7-11 mark in league play.

The Tar Heels sit tied for second in the ACC Coastal Division with Georgia Tech, while Wake Forest, Clemson, and Notre Dame are all tied for third in the Atlantic division.

As tight as the standings are, that’s not the main focus for UNC head coach Mike Fox.

“We don’t focus on any of that. We don’t put the standings up [in the clubhouse], we don’t put the statistics up there, [the players] have all that stuff if they want it,” Fox says.

The Tar Heels know each game at the end of the season will be a battle. (UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels know each game at the end of the season will be a battle. (UNC Athletics)

“But they’re silly if they start looking at all of that, we’ve just gotta get better as a team game by game, and do what we can to play a little bit better.”

Sophomore first baseman Joe Dudek shares similar thoughts when he says that it’s all about keeping a focused mindset in a league as competitive as the ACC.

“We understand how competitive this league is, and having to go out there and be focused every pitch, from the first one to the last one, is important,” says Dudek.

“I think we have good focus. As long as we keep doing the little things right, I think we’ll win some games.”

Although UNC has won six of its last seven games, and three of its last four in the conference, Coach Fox still sees one glaring problem that needs to be fixed as the games gain more significance from here on out.

“The frustrating thing is we just don’t move the ball as much as we need to,” says Fox, “Strikeouts are strikeouts, they happen, but we seem to strikeout a lot with people in scoring position.”

For them to improve, Fox says his hitters can’t rely on just one player to do all the heavy lifting.

“We can’t rely on one or two guys in our lineup. We’ve gotta have some production from the bottom of the order. We’ve been really streaky offensively. Guys get hot and then they go in the other direction,” Coach says.

Despite a recent slump offensively, Zack Gahagan has remained sharp at third base. (UNC Athletics)

Despite a recent slump offensively, Zack Gahagan has remained sharp at third base. (UNC Athletics)

“Our freshmen are really facing that time of the year where I don’t know whether they’re tired, or if they’re pressing a little bit. Other teams watch and know your weaknesses, and you have to make adjustments. So we’ll have to get those guys going.”

Freshmen infielders Logan Warmoth and Zack Gahagan started off the year hot enough to where Coach Fox was hitting them in the number three and four spots in the batting order as recently as March 28th at home against #10 Miami. But recent struggles have pushed Warmoth (.254, 1 HR, 18 RBI) into the ninth, and final, spot in the order, while Gahagan (.239, 2 HR, 27 RBI) has been hitting fifth.

The man who’s had the hot bat for UNC recently, though, is Joe Dudek, with a .317 batting average, and a team-leading slugging percentage of .585–including going 4-9 with two RBI in his last three games. Dudek says he’s confident that this team has the right attributes to make a run late in the season.

“I think this team’s got a lot of fight,” Dudek says, “We’re a gritty team. I think this month is just gonna show. We’ve been putting it together–haven’t had exactly the results we were looking for in some games, couple tough losses here and there–but I think it’s all coming together well, and I think it’s gonna translate into a lot of wins down the stretch.”

Trevor Kelley has been hailed as the team's "savior" by Coach Mike Fox for his ability to pitch in nearly every game. (UNC Athletics)

Trevor Kelley has been hailed as the team’s “savior” by Coach Mike Fox for his ability to pitch in nearly every game. (UNC Athletics)

Unfortunately, Carolina’s bullpen took a hit on Tuesday when it was announced that junior reliever Reilly Hovis, the 2014 closer, will miss the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, putting even more pressure on senior Trevor Kelley (the NCAA leader in relief appearances with 26) to continue carrying the load, says Coach Fox.

“[Kelley’s] been invaluable for us because he’s pitched well, but also because our bullpen’s somewhat kinda been in flux, and hasn’t been as deep as we want it to be, and need it to be, so we’ve used him probably more than we would have liked to have.”

Zac Gallen (2-2, 2.92 ERA) will make the start for the Tar Heels on Friday against the Hokies’ Kit Scheetz (1-1, 6.31 ERA), with first pitch set for 5:30 p.m.

Series Notes:

  • UNC is 27-1 against Virginia Tech under Mike Fox.
  • Former Tar Heel starting pitcher Robert Woodard, the winningest pitcher in UNC baseball history (34-5), is in his second season as the pitching coach for the Hokies.
  • First baseman Brendon Hayden leads the Virginia Tech offense, with seven home runs and 33 RBI, along with a .301 batting average.

No. 1 Tar Heel Women Serving For History

Brian Kalbas’ No. 1 Tar Heels are on the doorstep of history. No women’s tennis team has ever gone undefeated in the ACC regular season. Armed with a deep and talented lineup, Carolina is determined to become the first to do so Friday in Chestnut Hill.

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Not everything, though, has been clean sailing. For the first time this season, UNC dropped the opening doubles point Wednesday against arch-rival Duke. Panic could have settled in.

But for this group of Tar Heels that UNC head coach Brian Kalbas calls “special”, that wasn’t going to happen.

Jamie Loeb is one of the premier college players in the nation (UNC Athletics)

Jamie Loeb is one of the premier college players in the nation (UNC Athletics)

“After the doubles, I looked at the players’ faces and eyes – you could tell they weren’t panicked, upset or unnerved by the situation. It was just a matter of going out there, getting off to a good start and putting in some good execution in the start of the singles,” Coach Kalbas says.

Tennis is such an individual sport. So how does this affect the way Coach Kalbas handles his duties?

“Each person needs something a little different. Some need strategy, some need some emotional stability, some can do things on their own and others need you to talk to them. You have to get a good understanding of what they need,” Coach Kalbas says.

Right now, every member of the lineup seems to understand their roles. Coach Kalbas says his team’s depth and experience is paying dividends.

Multiple players have come up with match-clinching victories and earned ACC Player of the Week honors.

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

However, most of the attention goes to No. 1 Jamie Loeb. Loeb splashed onto the national tennis stage as a freshman a year ago when she came out of nowhere to seize a singles national title in the fall of 2013 against a stacked field.

But there’s been no sophomore slump for Loeb – a gritty competitor who Coach Kalbas says is getting sharper and sharper with each point.

“She’s really playing unbelievable right now. She’s really turned it on the past few weeks. She’s beaten some good players – Wagner from Miami, her rival Elbaba from Virginia and Capra from Duke. She’s had to be really playing extremely well and very focuses. She’s done an amazing job at that,” Coach Kalbas says.

Coming up just short in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to UCLA in the 2014 NCAA championship match may have been the best thing that could have happened to the Tar Heels.

Coach Kalbas says the defeat has added fuel to the fire to this year’s charge.

“I think it’s had a major effect. I think we’ve been focused throughout the year, not taking any match for granted, respecting each opponent and what they potentially could do against us,” Coach Kalbas says.

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

Up to this point, Carolina is unblemished, sporting a 25-0 record overall and a 13-0 mark in league play. However, that begs the question – would a loss before the NCAA Tournament benefit the Tar Heels?

“This is the kind of team I don’t think would benefit from a loss going into the postseason. I really think this team benefits from winning and getting that motivation that we could do something special,” Coach Kalbas says.

But for now, the ultra-focused Tar Heels have their rackets aimed at Boston College. A win Friday would stamp the Carolina women’s tennis program’s place in history.

“Our team is very record-oriented. They know that no ACC team has gone undefeated during the regular season, so they’re very motivated to do that when we play BC,” Coach Kalbas says.

UNC Reliever Reilly Hovis Has Tommy John Surgery, Out For Season

Reilly Hovis, a junior reliever for the UNC baseball team, has been declared out for the remainder of the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday morning to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

Hovis, a native of Gastonia, North Carolina served as the team’s closer last year and was named to the All-ACC first team as a relief pitcher. He was credited with a team-high nine wins in 2014, while also picking up six saves. On top of that, he also struck out 81 hitters in just 64 innings, finishing the year with a 2.25 ERA.

Those numbers were good enough to earn Hovis a spot as a third-team Preseason All-American reliever for 2015, but after struggling mightily in his only two appearances of this year, allowing six runs in just three innings pitched, it was clear there might have been something wrong.

Head coach Mike Fox had hoped to have Hovis return at some point during this year to help out a bullpen that has struggled to find production from anyone other than senior Trevor Kelley and junior Trent Thornton, but that dream has gone out the window with this news.

The surgery was performed by the world famous Dr. James Andrews, and it typically requires at least 12 months of recovery time.

Game Postponed:

In related news, the Tar Heels’ game against UNC-Asheville, which was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium on Wednesday, has been canceled due to heavy rain in the forecast. No makeup date has been announced. Next up, Carolina will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia this weekend for a three-game ACC series with Virginia Tech.

Mother Nature Shortens UNC Baseball’s Win Over High Point

In a game shortened to five and a half innings due to rain, Hunter Williams pitched the UNC baseball team to a 1-0 win over the High Point Panthers on Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium. The Tar Heels jump to 23-14 with the non-conference victory, and the Panthers fall below .500, with their record falling to 17-18 on the year.

Williams, the freshman lefty continued his recent run of dominance with seven strikeouts and no walks over six shut-out innings. In his past four starts, he’s thrown 24 innings and allowed just two runs and ten hits, completely baffling opposing hitters all month long.

Offensively, the Tar Heels got a lead-off double from junior Alex Raburn in the second inning, which turned into the game’s only run when he was hit home on the next play by another double, this one from catcher Korey Dunbar.

After that, though, the pitchers went back and forth until the rain came, as Carolina picked up just two more hits on High Point starting pitcher Michael Hennessey after scoring in the second, while High Point managed just three hits for the entire six innings against Williams.

Up Next:

UNC has the final game of its seven game home-stand scheduled for Wednesday night as they host the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Game Notes:

  • Alex Raburn made the start at second base over junior college transfer Eli Sutherland, who had started the previous 19 games at the position.
  • With tonight’s big performance, Hunter Williams drops his ERA to 1.14 on the season.

Sankey Guiding Tar Heel Lax To National Glory

For the first time in 23 years, the No. 4 UNC men’s lacrosse team finds itself 3-0 in the ACC and with a 12-1 overall record, the Tar Heels are now hoping to translate that regular-season success into a postseason run.

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In their final regular-season appearance in Chapel Hill, 11 Tar Heel seniors went out on top by downing No. 2 Syracuse in thrilling fashion, 17-15.

But senior Joey Sankey stole the attention of the sellout crowd of over 6,000 at Fetzer Field with his record-breaking performance. With his three goals Saturday, Sankey passed Marcus Holman as the all-time leading scorer in UNC history with 214 points and counting.

Sankey slides one into the net (UNC Athletics)

Sankey slides one into the net (UNC Athletics)

“It’s a great honor, you know, being able to have played with Marcus for two years, and he gave me a lot of those points, so it was a great honor to beat him and to have that record. But I’ve played with so many great players here and without them this wouldn’t be possible at all and without the coaching staff, so you have to credit the whole program, but it’s a huge honor and I’m really thankful for it,” Sankey says.

The victory over 11-time national champion Syracuse could be a watershed moment for the Tar Heels and pay huge dividends down the road.

But Sankey says there’s just something about Alumni Weekend that gets the guys all fired up.

“I mean we’ve been fortunate on Alumni Weekend we’ve had a few great games, you know, I think it was my sophomore year with R.G. Keenan coming down winning in overtime, knocking off number one team Maryland last year, so we’ve been very fortunate on Alumni Weekend. Getting the support at Fetzer today was incredible, playing a great team like Syracuse, so it definitely makes it that much sweeter,” Sankey says.

UNC head coach Joe Breschi has been at the helm of the lacrosse program for seven seasons and guided the Tar Heels to the 2013 ACC title, but Coach Breschi says a win against the Orange is a pretty big deal.

“I thought we did a terrific job across the board, that was a great lacrosse game, brought me back to the 80’s when I was here and early 90’s just renewing that rivalry and the up-and-down pace and tempo was fantastic. We knew it was going to be a back-and-forth type game trying to hold them off, they’re so talented,” says Breschi.

A packed-out Fetzer Field (UNC Athletics)_

A packed-out Fetzer Field (UNC Athletics)_

And hold them off they did. Syracuse used a furious four-goal rally to pull within two at 17-15, but in the end, the UNC defense did just enough to secure the ‘W’.

Coach Breschi credits the senior class for instilling an infectious competitive spirit in the rest of the team.

“Sankey and [Jimmy] Bitter and [Chad] Tutton, just all of them have meant so much to this program and to go out on a win in their last regular season game against a great Syracuse team is fantastic. Just so many positives into the weekend – Alumni Weekend – and to come away with a win is just a special thing,” says Breschi.

Next up for the surging Tar Heels comes a Saturday road trip to South Bend to take on the top-ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in a showdown that will decide the ACC regular-season championship.