UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels get back on track

Feb 14, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; a general view of a baseball bat and glove on the field during New York Mets spring training workouts at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; a general view of a baseball bat and glove on the field during New York Mets spring training workouts at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Diamond Heels were back in action this week. Check out how they played in their first road series of the year.

We are in the middle of March Madness, but college baseball is getting into full swing. The Diamond Heels began conference play last week, and beat Virginia in two out of three, to win their first ACC series.

This week, the Heels played four games.

They had a single game against former ACC foe Maryland, and then played their second ACC series of the season against Georgia Tech.

The Georgia Tech series was the team’s first opportunity to play outside the friendly confines of Boshamer Stadium.

The ACC schedule got to the Diamond Heels last year. They were great outside of conference, but in ACC play last year, they lost their opportunity at an NCAA Tournament birth.

Last year in ACC play, the Heels were a measly 13-17. This year they are off to a better start. They have won their first two series, and are sitting at 4-2 through six games.

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Tar Heels- 9
Terrapins- 2

The first game of the week for the Heels had them pitted against an old rival.

The Terps left the ACC a couple of years ago, but they still found themselves in NC taking on the Diamond Heels.

This game was never really in doubt for the Tar Heels. The pitching was dominant yet again. The Heels sent four pitchers to the hill, and they combined for a one-hitter as a team. Tyler Baum walked the first two batters of the third, both of which came around to score on a single by Nick Dunn.

That would be all the offense that Maryland could muster up.

Tyler Baum, Austin Bergner, Rodney Hutchison Jr. and Cole Aker were the four pitchers for the Heels. All four guys went at least one inning, with Baum being the only one who gave up a hit. Baum advanced to 3-0 on the season with the win.

At the plate, the Heels had another one of their hit parades. Nine guys got a hit for the Heels, and seven guys came around to score.

Ashton McGee was the leading RBI guy for the Tar Heels, going one-for-four, with four RBI’s. Logan Warmth and Brian Miller also chimed in, getting two hits apiece.

Georgia Tech

Game One

Tar Heels- 6
Yellow Jackets- 5

The Heels kept things rolling with another win on Friday. Carolina picked up the big series opener against the Yellow Jackets, 6-5. The Tar Heels were playing their first game away from Chapel Hill, but it did not seem to bother them.

They still took care of business.

Yet again, the story of the game for the Heels was their phenomenal pitching. JB Bukauskas, the preseason All-American took to the hill, and gave the Heels a stellar seven innings. He surrendered only three hits, two earned runs and struck out fourteen on his way to his third win of the year.

Josh Hiatt, the man who assumed the role of closer for UNC this year has been sensational. He came in and closed the last two innings for the Heels, for the six out save. The closer position was a mess for the Heels last year, but it seems as if Hiatt has closed that door this season.

Kyle Datres carried the Heels at the plate on Friday. Datres continued his hot start to the season. He went 3-for-5 on Friday, driving in one run also. The Heels got all six of their RBI’s from six different batters! Catcher Cody Roberts also had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-3, with one RBI.

This combination of hitting and pitching could be lethal for the Heels if they could get this two out of three games in a series. They do so well on the mound, but at the plate they are just as strong.

Game two

Yellow Jackets- 4
Tar Heels- 2
12 Innings

In their first road series of the year, the Heels played in their first extra-innings game of the year. This one did not go as well as game one. The bats never really got going for the Heels, despite the pitching staff having another solid outing.

Georgia Tech’s Kel Johnson was the hero of the day for the Yellow Jackets. He stepped up in the 12th inning and launched a two-run homer, giving Tech the win. That was Johnson’s first hit of the day, going 0-for-5 in his previous at bats.

Lucas Daltatri had another great day on the mound for the Tar Heels. Dalatri went 8.0 innings, surrendering only five hits and two runs, one earned. Austin Bergner came on following Dalatri, and went 1.1 innings of hit free baseball.

Then normal setup man Rodney Hutchison Jr took to the hill, and surrendered the game winning two-run home run. Hutchison took the loss, and moved to 2-1 on the year.

The slow day at the plate was the detriment to the Heels on Saturday. Designated hitter Ashton McGee was strong, going 3-for-5 on the day, but had no RBI’s to capitalize on when he was hitting. The other four Tar Heel hits were spread out over four guys, with Michael Busch and Tyler Lynn driving in both runs.

The Diamond Heels could not string together any timely hits in game two. They left a total of nine runners on base. Kyle Datres left a total of five guys on base, while going 1-for-4 on the day. Timely hits is the name of the game, and the Heels could not find one on Saturday.

Game three

Tar Heels- 7
Yellow Jackets- 4

In game three, the Diamond Heels righted the ship. Things did not look as promising early on though. The Heels found themselves in a 4-0 hole early in the game. Being down like that early on in a road game normally is not a good sign. Then the bats woke up.

The Diamond Heels rattled off seven unanswered runs! The rally was led by DH Ashton McGee, who was 2-for-4, with two RBI’s and a walk. McGee has done a great job for the Heels this season in the DH spot. Three different Heels had two hits on Sunday, Logan Warmoth, Ashton McGee and Cody Roberts. All three had a RBI or scored a run in the game.

Pitching was solid from the Heels after they settled down from the early start. Jason Morgan went a quick 2.1 innings, before being yanked for Trevor Gay.

The hero on the mound was reliever Brett Daniels. Daniels came on in a place where the Heels needed him most. Daniels shut the door on the Yellow Jackets for 4.1 innings, giving up two hits in that time, and he struck out 9 in quick work.

Next: UNC adds South Carolina to baseball schedule

Once again, the Heels closer Josh Hiatt made quick work in relief. He faced six batters, striking out three, walking one, and gave up one hit.

Hiatt claimed his seventh save of the young season on Sunday.

The importance of Hiatt can not be overstated, but it is still early in the year. The Heels lacked big time in the closer department last year, and it seems as if Hiatt has slammed that door shut.