UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels beat Houston to avoid elimination game

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

UNC Baseball is one win away from advancing to the Chapel Hill Super Regional after beating Houston on Saturday night

The North Carolina Tar Heels have put themselves in good shape in the Chapel Hill Regional this weekend.

A day after the Tar Heels routed North Carolina A&T, they won their second-straight by beating No. 3 Houston on Saturday night. This now gives the Tar Heels a good shot at winning the regional and advancing to the Super Regionals.

Playing as the road team in Boshamer Stadium, the Tar Heels got the scoring started early in the game. After two quick outs in the top of the second, Brandon Martorano drew a walk that would prove costly. 

Following Martorano’s walk, second baseman Zack Gahagan took advantage of the situation and launched a two-run homer to left field to give the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead early in the game. 

It didn’t take long for the Tar Heels to strike again. In the top of the third inning, catcher Cody Roberts put down a sacrifice bunt that scored Kyle Datres to give UNC a 3-0 lead.

While UNC’s offense grabbed the early lead, starter Gianluca Dalatri was dealing on the mound as the Tar heels had control of the game.

Dalatri pitched five strong innings allowing just four hits, one run and striking out three batters in the outing. He earned the big win as he was in control for most of his start.

Houston threatened the Tar Heels in the bottom of the seventh, getting a leadoff double followed by a walk to put two men on and no out trailing 3-1. Roberts then dropped the ball on a play at the plate as Houston cut into the lead at 3-2 and had the tying run at third with one out.

But then came arguably the biggest play of the game.

Houston’s Kyle Lovelace hit a fly ball to right field with Josh Ladowski making the catch and then throwing out Cooper Coldiron at home for the double play to end the inning. It also preserved UNC’s 3-2 lead and saved possibly the game.

The Tar Heels would add an insurance run when Ike Freeman hit an RBI single to plate Roberts in the eighth inning. Houston scored one in the ninth on a solo home run but never really were a threat after that.

Houston and Purdue will play an elimination game at 1 p.m. with the loser being sent home and the winner advancing to the night game to face UNC. A win by the Tar Heels in the 6 p.m. game would win the Regional and advance them to the Chapel Hill Super Regional.

Next: Tar Heels roll past North Carolina A&T

Check back with Keeping It Heel for complete coverage of Sunday’s action