UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels open ACC play vs. Louisville

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 01: A general view as Scott Alexander
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 01: A general view as Scott Alexander /

The Diamond Heels open up Atlantic Coast Conference Play on the road in Louisville this weekend

It wasn’t the start to the season that the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team has hoped for, going 4-5 in their first nine games of the season. But the Diamond Heels have started to figure things out, winning four-straight games including a series sweep against Liberty last weekend.

On Friday, UNC will face its toughest test of the early season and it comes in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The Diamond Heels will travel to Louisville for a big three-game series against the Cardinals in what will be the first ACC series for both teams.

It’s also a matchup of Top 20 teams.

After starting the season at 12-0, the Cardinals are the No. 8 ranked team in the nation. The Tar Heels will enter the game at No. 14 in the nation.  Both teams are hoping to get off to a great start in conference play and winning this series could go a long way in the final standings in the ACC as well as seeding.

This will be just the second time in history that UNC and Louisville have played a three game series with the Cardinals taking the previous one 2-1 in 2016. They have played a total of seven times in history and met in the 2015 ACC Tournament.

Pitching Matchups

Game One: Tyler Baum (2-0) vs. Adam Wolf (3-0)

Game Two: TBD vs. TBD

Game Three: TBD vs. TBD

UNC will give the ball to sophomore Tyler Baum for the first game of this big series. Baum enters the game at 2-0 on the year with a 3.94 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

He’s only walked six batters on the year which rank fifth in the ACC.

Baum’s hot start to the season is not surprising. Last year as a freshman he went 7-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 63 innings of work.

Louisville will throw junior lefty Adam Wolf who is 3-0 on the year with a 2.00 ERA, 20 strikeouts and just three walks. It will be a tough test for a UNC lineup that has struggled early this season.

As for the rest of the starters, the Tar Heels will likely throw Gianluca Dalatri at some point this series, probably Sunday. That would leave the option of either Caden O’Brien or Rodney Hutchinson for Sunday.

Of course, Mike Fox could throw Dalatri on Sunday especially if UNC picks up wins on Friday and Saturday.

Key to the series

The Tar Heels will need to get their bats going early in this series.

They’ve scored 46 runs in their four-game win streak including games of 17, 13 and 10. Staying hot will be the key if they want a series win.

They hit .318 as a team in that stretch and were able to pull ahead comfortably in all but one game when they won 6-5 over Liberty.

Junior Kyle Datres enters the game third in the ACC with 19 hits and fifth with 13 runs scored, a key catalyst to the Tar Heels offense. The infielder hit .265 last season.

Along with Datres, both Ashton McGee and Brandon Riley are also starting to hit better.

They combined for 10 hits and 11 RBI’s in this four-game win streak.