UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels complete sweep, back in first place

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 21: Head coach Mike Fox
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 21: Head coach Mike Fox /

The Diamond Heels find themselves in first place after a weekend sweep in Chapel Hill

With one month left in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season, the North Carolina Tar Heels find themselves in an ideal position.

UNC entered the past week at 12-6 and in second place in the ACC Coastal Division, trailing only the Duke Blue Devils. They had four games in the week ahead including one against NC State in Durham that didn’t count towards their ACC record.

But with the week now over, the Tar Heels are back in first place.

The Tar Heels earned a big three-game home sweep of Georgia Tech over the weekend to propel themselves into first place in the Coastal Division with a 15-6 record. It was the first sweep of the Yellow Jackets for the Tar Heels since 1996.

After a loss to NC State on Tuesday, UNC still felt like this team was going in the right direction after a shaky start to the season. Sure, it’s no fun to lose to NC State but the Wolfpack are one of the better teams in the country and the first goal for the Tar Heels is to win the Coastal Division.

They entered the series with a chance to boost their confidence some more and they did exactly what they set out to accomplish.

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second, UNC responded with five runs in the bottom half of the frame. Michael Busch got the scoring started for the Tar Heels with a bases-loaded single to score two runs and give UNC the lead.

In the very next at-bat, Kyle Datres hit his fourth home run of the season on an 0-2 pitch to give UNC the 5-1 lead. They never looked back as starter Tyler Baum pitched four innings giving up just four hits and the Tar Heels bullpen went five innings giving up five hits and one earned run.

Caden O’Brien picked up the win to improve to 2-0.

Saturday’s game was a little tighter for the Tar Heels and required a comeback that we could look back on and say was a big turning point in the season.

After UNC scored a run in each of the first two innings on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets plated two in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead.

But back would come the Tar Heels.

UNC used a four-run eighth inning to tie the game with pinch-hitter Jackson Hesterlee hitting a grand slam in his only plate appearance. Hesterlee’s grand slam got UNC right back in it as the two teams went to extras.

In extras, UNC would have to come from behind once again. The Yellow Jackets scored two runs in the top of the 10th to take a lead and it appeared as if they would take Game 2 of the series.

UNC responded with a Brandon Martorano RBI double and then a pinch-hit triple by Ben Casparius that plated the tying run. Leadoff man Dallas Tessar played the hero role with a sacrifice fly to score the winning run.

The comeback proved to be huge for UNC as they won the series and had the chance to go for the sweep on Sunday.

With the late-inning drama on Saturday night, UNC was still focused for Sunday’s finale. The third game of the series was much like the first as UNC jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings.

Georgia Tech got on the board with a single tally in the fourth but a seven-run seventh inning gave UNC a big cushion as they went on to win 10-3 and complete the sweep.

Both Cody Roberts and Zack Gahagan finished with 3 RBI’s each and Ike Freeman had 2 RBI’s.

Following the sweep of the Yellow Jackets, coach Mike Fox discussed how important that series was for the Tar Heels not only now but for the future.

Here’s what he had to say:

At 15-6 the Tar Heels now lead Duke by 1.5 games entering the final month of the season. UNC is also tied with NC State for the best record in the conference.

The Wolfpack and Tar Heels will meet for a three-game weekend series in Raleigh this week.

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