Diamond Heels Knock Off Campbell

Shortstop Logan Warmoth started off the scoring for the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday night on the way to a victory over Campbell.

Warmoth’s two-run home run was followed by an RBI single from Zack Gahagan for a 3-0 UNC lead after two innings.

Carolina never trailed, eventually extending the lead to 7-0 over the Camels.

Campbell did score three runs in the sixth inning to chase UNC starting pitcher Rodney Hutchison Jr. But Brett Daniels came on in relief to put a stop to the Camels’ offensive threat.

UNC added two insurance runs and Campbell scored once in the top of the ninth for a 9-4 victory.

UNC has been struggling as of late in Atlantic Coast Conference play but has now strung together victories this week over UNC – Wilmington and Campbell. The Tar Heels are off this weekend with a break from conference play and will be back in action next Wednesday hosting Virginia Commonwealth University.


Datres’ Heroics Help UNC Take “Must-Win” Game from UNC-Wilmington

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.

Datres watches the game's final pitch go by. It was his second walk-off RBI this season. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Datres watches the game’s final pitch go by. It was his second walk-off RBI this season. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

“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.

Adam Pate capped off UNC's six-run first inning with an RBI single, as the Tar Heels were able to end UNC-Wilmington's 12-game win streak. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Adam Pate capped off UNC’s six-run first inning with an RBI single, as the Tar Heels were able to end UNC-Wilmington’s 12-game win streak. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

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.

Up Next:

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.

Game Notes:

  • UNC-Wilmington was fortunate to hold UNC to just one run in the bottom of the fourth, benefiting from a rare “5-4-2” double play. After recording the first out, second baseman Brian Mims threw home for a tag on UNC’s Logan Warmoth, who was ruled out despite appearing to reach home plate in time.
  • The Tar Heels are now 21-1 this season when scoring at least six runs.
  • UNC was perfect on stolen base attempts in the game–going 7-for-7, with six different players stealing at least once.




UNC Baseball Drops from Top 25

Following a week that saw the North Carolina Tar Heels go 1-4 on the baseball field, UNC has dropped out of the D1Baseball top 25 rankings for the first time this season.

Carolina was swept over the weekend by Wake Forest, who entered the series against UNC with a 7-11 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The Tar Heels had split the mid-week games losing to Coastal Carolina and then knocking off William & Mary.

While UNC dropped out of the top 25, the ACC is still very well represented.

Miami went 1-3 over the last week and dropped from the top spot in the rankings to third. Florida State joins Miami to round out the top five. Two other ACC teams – NC State (6) and Louisville (9) – are in the top 10.

Virginia, entering the rankings at No. 21, is the only other ACC team in the top 25.

UNC will be back on the field in Chapel Hill on Tuesday hosting UNC – Wilmington; the Seahawks are coming off of a 4-0 week.


UNC Baseball Swept at Wake Forest, Demon Deacons Walk-Off Winners

Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning Sunday–on the verge of yet another ACC loss–the No. 17 UNC baseball team was desperately in need of a spark.

Enter Tyler Lynn.

The junior college transfer from Phenix City, Alabama came off the bench and led off the frame with a game-tying solo home run–appearing to shift all momentum to the visiting dugout.

Wake Forest had other ideas, however, as sophomore Stuart Fairchild doubled home Will Craig in the bottom of the ninth against UNC reliever AJ Bogucki–giving the Demon Deacons a 3-2 victory in walk-off fashion.

Hunter Williams got his first weekend start of 2016 on Sunday, allowing a pair of homers in the third inning. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Hunter Williams got his first weekend start of 2016 on Sunday, allowing a pair of homers in the third inning. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

It also completed a clean sweep for Wake Forest (26-17, 10-11 ACC), which continually saw its superstar, Craig, come up clutch against the Tar Heels (26-15, 9-12 ACC) all weekend long.

UNC head coach Mike Fox shook up his pitching rotation in another attempt to give his team some life, but it made no difference.

Lefty Hunter Williams got the call over Jason Morgan, who pitched on Wednesday against William & Mary but had been the starter in each of the team’s Sunday games in 2016.

Williams lasted just three innings, though, as he surrendered a pair of solo homers in the third–the first to Kevin Conway and the second to Craig, who now has 13 on the season.

After his offense powered the Demon Deacons to a win on Friday–and his pitching sealed the deal on Saturday–the mere threat of Craig at the plate turned out to be UNC’s undoing on Sunday.

Despite having thrown over four solid innings out of the bullpen, the call was made for Bogucki to intentionally walk Craig with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

A wild pitch allowed Craig to reach second base, which allowed him to easily score the game-winning run on Fairchild’s double down the left-field line.

Brandon Riley doubled to start the ninth for UNC, but the Tar Heels weren't able to capitalize. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Brandon Riley doubled to start the ninth for UNC, but the Tar Heels weren’t able to capitalize. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels’ offensive woes continued to haunt them as Wake Forest starter Connor Johnstone held them to just four hits across seven innings.

Eli Sutherland’s RBI single in the seventh was the only time Johnstone found himself in the slightest bit of trouble.

Not until the Demon Deacons went to their bullpen did UNC get its life.

Lynn homered off Garrett Kelly to tie the game in the eighth, while freshman Brandon Riley doubled off John McCarren to lead off the ninth–putting the Tar Heels in position to take the lead.

Seven pitches and three outs later, those hopes were brought to a halt.

Fairchild’s game-winner sent UNC to its fourth straight ACC loss and 12th in total–more than any other team in the conference except for Virginia Tech, which entered Sunday with 17.

Up Next:

The Tar Heels will return home to Boshamer Stadium for a non-conference battle against UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Game Notes:

  • Riley’s ninth-inning double was the only extra-base hit UNC had during the game.
  • Will Craig’s 13 home runs for Wake Forest this season are more than Tyler Ramirez (seven) and Eli Sutherland (four)–the top two men on UNC’s list this year–have combined for.
  • Not one time during the game Sunday did UNC have a man on third base with less than two outs.





UNC Baseball Continues to Slide, Drops Series to Wake Forest

The late season free-fall continued on Saturday for the No. 17 UNC baseball team.

For the second straight outing the Tar Heels lost in Winston Salem to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons–this one by a score of 5-4–putting the team two games below .500 in ACC play.

Now sitting at 26-14 this season (9-11 ACC) after an 18-2 start, the Tar Heels find themselves in real danger of missing out on postseason play.

Freshman catcher Logan Harvey put the Demon Deacons (25-17, 9-11 ACC) out in front with a two-run double off UNC starter JB Bukauskas in the bottom of the fourth inning, as the home team was able to hang on to a close lead for the majority of the game.

Just a day removed from leading his team to victory at the plate, Wake Forest junior Will Craig struck out four times against Bukauskas, but pitched the last two innings to pick up the win on the mound.

JB Bukauskas wasn't able to carry the Tar Heels to victory against Wake Forest on Saturday. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

JB Bukauskas wasn’t able to carry the Tar Heels to victory against Wake Forest on Saturday. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Craig ran into trouble late when he allowed UNC center fielder Tyler Ramirez to make it a 5-4 game with a one-out, RBI single in the ninth, however he recovered to retire Logan Warmoth and Brandon Riley to end the game with the tying run on base.

Brian Miller, the Tar Heel lead-off man, again led the way on offense for head coach Mike Fox–going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.

For a brief moment it appeared as if UNC wouldn’t need the rest of the lineup to start hitting.

After taking over for reliever Donnie Sellers with the bases loaded in the seventh, Craig walked Miller and Ramirez–tying the game at 3-3.

Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, they met the same fate in the bottom half of the frame. Hansen Butler walked Wake Forest’s Johnny Aiello with two outs and the bags full–handing over the lead for good.

The Demon Deacons added an insurance run in the eighth on a single by Kevin Conway, which proved to be the difference.

Up Next:

UNC will look to prevent a surprising sweep on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Jason Morgan, the 6-foot-6 righty.

Game Notes:

  • Bukauskas was pulled with one out in the sixth inning after having thrown 106 pitches for the Tar Heels. The ACC leader in strikeouts entering the weekend, he struck out seven Demon Deacons on Saturday.
  • Logan Warmoth, Brandon Riley, and Eli Sutherland–UNC’s 3, 4, and 5 hitters–went a combined 1-for-13 in the game.
  • UNC had just seven hits in the game.




Craig Leads Wake Forest Past Gallen, No. 17 UNC Baseball to Open Series

When it comes to the best hitters in college baseball, you won’t find many better than Wake Forest third baseman Will Craig.

The ACC leader in batting average and RBIs, Craig sparked the Demon Deacons to a 6-1 win on Friday in their series opener with the No. 17 Tar Heels.

Zac Gallen–one of the ACC’s top pitchers–gave up just five hits in 6.2 innings on the mound for UNC, but it was Craig who shined brightest in the battle between the two stars.

Zac Gallen was solid on the mound for UNC on Friday, but didn't get the run support necessary to get a win. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Zac Gallen was solid on the mound for UNC on Friday, but didn’t get the run support necessary to get a win. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

A 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound junior from Johnson City, Tennessee, Craig put Wake Forest (24-17, 8-11 ACC) ahead with an RBI single against Gallen in the first inning, scored a run in the fourth after reaching base on a walk, then sent his 12th home run of the season over the wall in left center to lead off the sixth.

He also walked in his fourth, and final, plate appearance of the night–keeping his average at a staggering .455.

The Tar Heels (26-13, 9-10 ACC) continued their inconsistency at the plate, picking up just a single run on six hits–two days after scoring 17 runs in a rout over William & Mary.

Parker Dunshee continually pitched to contact all night for the Demon Deacons, but managed to hold UNC scoreless for seven innings, before finally allowing the Tar Heels to scrape one across in the eighth on an RBI groundout from Brian Miller.

Miller, a sophomore from Raleigh, led the Tar Heels offensively, going 2-for-4 with a double. He was the only UNC player to reach base more than once, as the entire team failed to see ball four at all during the game.

Brian Miller had two hits for UNC, which failed to draw a single walk against Wake Forest. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Brian Miller had two hits for UNC, which failed to draw a single walk against Wake Forest. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Facing reliever Brett Daniels in their half of the eighth, Wake Forest added a fourth run when Daniels walked Jonathan Pryor with two outs and the bases loaded.

A single by freshman catcher Logan Harvey in the next at-bat brought home two more–all but ensuring the Tar Heels would come up short in conference play yet again.

After falling below .500 in the conference standings, UNC has one month–and 11 ACC more games–to show it can regain the consistency that carried it through the early portion of the year.

That’s easier said than done, though, against players as dominant as Craig and a league as dominant as the ACC–which has had as many as eight teams ranked in the Top 25 this season.

Up Next:

UNC and Wake Forest will play the second game of the three-game series on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.

Game Notes:

  • With runners on base, the Tar Heels went just 1-for-13, despite the lead-off man reaching on four occasions.
  • Craig’s 12 home runs put him second in the ACC behind only Clemson freshman Seth Beer, who entered Friday with 14.
  • Gallen fell to 4-4 this season for UNC after suffering his second straight loss.




UNC Baseball Prepares For Weekend Series Against Wake Forest

After an up and down week that saw a loss to Coastal Carolina and a drubbing of William & Mary, the Tar Heels get ready for a three-game series against Wake Forest.

The Tar Heel pitching staff will have all it can handle as they travel to face star first baseman Will Craig.

Craig is the reigning ACC Player of the Year and currently leads the league in batting average and RBI’s, while still showing a propensity for power, going deep 11 times this season.

But despite Craig’s prowess at the plate, Wake Forest has struggled this season, going just 7-11 so far in ACC play.

The Demon Deacons have won three of their last four games, including taking two of three from Florida State.

If the Tar Heels hit like they did Wednesday, when they put up 17 runs on William & Mary, then they should be able to handle Wake Forest.

First pitch is at 6:00 p.m. Friday, 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.


J.B. Bukauskas Named to Golden Spikes Award Watchlist

J.B. Bukauskas, a sophomore pitcher for the UNC baseball team, has been named to the 2016 Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list.

The Golden Spikes Award is given to the top amateur baseball player in the country.  Sixty college and high school players were added to the list.

“These athletes have proven themselves worthy of consideration for this prestigious award through the eyes of the advisory board and from the overwhelming fan support through our first-ever nomination process,” Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO at USA Baseball, said in a release.

Bukauskas is 6-1 with a 2.91 ERA after nine starts.  He leads all starters nationally with 13.50 strikeouts per nine innings.  He has 79 strikeouts in 52.2 innings of work.

There are 13 players from the Atlantic Coast Conference on the mid-season watchlist.  The Southeastern Conference lead all conferences with 14 players on the list.  Louisville, Vanderbilt and Virginia led the way with three athletes on the midseason watch list. Clemson, Florida, Miami, South Carolina and TCU each posted a pair of representatives on the list.

Semifinalists for the 2016 Golden Spikes Award will be announced on June 1.  In addition to votes cast by coaches, members of the media, and select professional baseball personnel, fans will have a say in choosing which players will advance past the semifinal round.  From June 1-8, fans will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalists at goldenspikesaward.com.

The UNC baseball team is currently 26-12 after a 17-2 win over William & Mary Wednesday night.  The Diamond Heels will return to action on Friday with a three-game series in Winston-Salem with Wake Forest.



UNC Baseball Crushes William And Mary 17-2

UNC jumped out to a three-run lead in the bottom of the first against William and Mary Tuesday night and never looked back.

The Tar Heels put up 17 runs the hard way, with just three extra-base hits, none advancing further than a double.

Leadoff hitter Brian Miller set the tone from the start, picking up a walk and stealing a base, which led to the first run of the game.

Miller scored four runs on two hits and tacked on three RBIs.

He was one of 10 different Tar Heels to round all four bases in the game.

Freshman Brandon Riley also had a big day at the plate, going 2-3 with four RBIs.

Starting pitcher Jason Morgan didn’t pitch long enough to earn a decision, but had a solid four innings of work. Morgan allowed just one earned run and struck out four.

Cole Aker was credited with the win after locking down the fifth and sixth inning.

The Tar Heels return to action Friday when they travel to Winston-Salem for the first of a three-game series with Wake Forest.


Coastal Carolina Tops UNC Baseball in Top-25 Showdown

April can’t end soon enough for the UNC baseball team.

The No. 17 Tar Heels are now just 5-8 in the month–which has been filled with games against high-level competition–after a 6-3 loss to the No. 21 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Tuesday night at Boshamer Stadium.

Sophomore lefty Hunter Williams started on the mound for UNC (25-12), but was rocked for four runs in the first inning by the sweet-swinging Chanticleers (28-10)–who won their 15th game in 16 tries.

Six days after Williams, who entered Tuesday with a 0.99 ERA, tossed six shutout innings against South Carolina he surrendered all of Coastal Carolina’s six runs, twice as many as he had allowed all season.

Early on, the Chanticleers got two hits apiece from GK Young, Connor Owings and Billy Cooke to help build a 6-1 lead after three innings. Cooke and Owings each drove in two runs as well.

UNC's outfielders combined to go just 2-for-11 against Coastal Carolina. (Smith Cameron Photography)

UNC’s outfielders combined to go just 2-for-11 against Coastal Carolina. (Smith Cameron Photography)

Williams was pulled in the third inning, and by the end of the fourth the Tar Heels had used four pitchers.

However, freshman Rodney Hutchison provided a steadying presence once he entered to begin the fifth.

Hutchison gave up just two hits and struck out seven over the next 4 2/3 innings–keeping UNC within striking distance.

Offensively, the Tar Heels were carried by sophomore third baseman Zack Gahagan. The Fletcher, North Carolina native went 2-for-3 with all three of the team’s RBIs, including his fourth home run of the year–a solo blast in the bottom of the sixth that was the last run scored by either side.

Gahagan also had an RBI single in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Freshman Brandon Riley went 2-for-4 for the Tar Heels with a pair of singles, while Eli Sutherland, Kyle Datres, and Cody Roberts rounded out the contributions from UNC’s bats.

The Chanticleers held the Tar Heels’ top two hitters, Brian Miller and Tyler Ramirez, to a combined 0-for-9 performance at the plate–which keyed their ability to hold on to the early lead.

Hitting has typically decided whether UNC wins, as the Tar Heels are 19-1 when scoring at least six runs. (Smith Cameron Photography)

Hitting has typically decided whether UNC wins, as the Tar Heels are 19-1 when scoring at least six runs. (Smith Cameron Photography)

It was just the latest chapter in UNC’s month to forget.

April began with the Tar Heels beign swept at Miami, then lost games the next week to UNC-Asheville and Virginia Tech–two teams who have less wins combined than this season than UNC has.

Following a huge 15-0 win over a top-10 team, South Carolina, last week, the Tar Heels had a chance to make a statement against defending national champion Virginia–but instead dropped two of three.

Although the talent on the roster has proven its capable of big things when it puts everything together, inconsistency has plagued UNC against top-level competition.

Tuesday was no different.

Up Next:

The Tar Heels will stay at home Wednesday, where they will have a chance to regroup against William & Mary (17-18).

Game Notes:

  • UNC shortstop Logan Warmoth, a sophomore who has started all but two of UNC’s last 85 games, sat out due to an injury suffered on Sunday. He was replaced by freshman Utah Jones.
  • Coastal Carolina has won two of its last three games against UNC dating back to last season.
  • The Tar Heels are now 3-8 when the opponent scores at least six runs.
  • With runners on base Coastal Carolina went 7-for-19 in the game (.368).