UNC Baseball sweeps Clemson in weekend series in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 19: An Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and NCAA game baseball during a game between High Point and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 19: An Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and NCAA game baseball during a game between High Point and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

The Diamond Heels took care of business this weekend, as they picked up another ACC series victory and sweep

After losing four of their previous five games, the UNC baseball looked to get back on track as they welcomed the Clemson Tigers to Boshamer Stadium.

The Diamond Heels went on to sweep the three-game series against their ACC foe. Here’s our recap of what went down in Chapel Hill over the weekend.

Game one did not begin the way that starting pitcher Austin Love envisioned. Just four batters into the game, Love surrendered a two-run homer to give the Tigers an early lead.

From that point on, Love was absolutely locked in on the mound.

The redshirt sophomore threw a career-high 7.2 innings, as he retired 19 of the final 21 batters he faced. He allowed three runs on just five hits and did not allow a walk throughout the contest.

Along with making his longest outing as a Tar Heel, Love struck out a career-best 12 opposing hitters. He became the first Diamond Heel to strike out 12+ batters in a game since Tyler Baum accomplished the feat on February 24, 2019, and the first to do it in a conference game since Cooper Criswell struck out 13 on April 17, 2018.

After facing an early deficit, the Diamond Heels offense was able to fight back rather quickly.

In the bottom half of the second inning, Brett Centracchio got the Tar Heels on the board with a solo home run to right field. Danny Serretti would hit a RBI double later on in the inning to tie up the score.

Just an inning later, the duo of Centracchio and Serretti helped the Tar Heels push across four more runs.

After Justice Thompson and Caleb Roberts reached base, Centracchio laced an RBI triple to drive in both runs. Just three batters later, Serretti followed with an RBI triple of his own, which gave the Diamond Heels a four-run cushion.

The Tigers would add a run in the sixth inning, but the Tar Heels would answer an inning later with a two-run home run from Clemente Inclan (this won’t be the last time you read about an Inclan homer throughout this post!). Inclan’s homer gave the Tar Heels the 8-3 lead that would eventually turn into the game’s final score.

Along with Centracchio and Serretti’s multi-hit performances, left fielder Angel Zarate also contributed two hits in five at-bats for the Diamond Heels. The trio combined for six of North Carolina’s 9 hits on the day.

After Love’s stellar performance, Shawn Rapp came on to close out the game for the Tar Heels. The freshman reliever did not allow a hit over his 1.1 innings of work.

Looking to secure at least a series victory, the Diamond Heels relied on the home run ball to help them pick up their second consecutive victory against the Tigers.

All of North Carolina’s offense game within the fourth inning of game two. Roberts got the party started with a solo homer to tie the game up. A few batters later, Inclan (we told you he wasn’t done!) and Stewart hit back-to-back homers to give the Tar Heels a 5-1 lead.

Contrary to game one, Scott Forbes had to rely heavily on his bullpen in this contest.

Starting pitcher Max Carlson struggled mightily, as he allowed four runs on three hits while walking five batters over 4.1 innings of work.

Forbes turned the game over to Nik Pry, who walked the only batter he faced. The Diamond Heels skipper then made another quick move, bringing in Nick James in hopes of stopping the bleeding.

Similar to Pry, James couldn’t get the job done, as he also walked the only batter he faced. Another pitching change was coming, but this one would pan out for the Tar Heels.

Joey Lancellotti was the next arm to be summoned from the bullpen, and he was simply phenomenal. The junior allowed just one hit over three innings of work, as he retired 9 of the 13 batters that he faced.

In hopes of holding onto the lead, Caden O’Brien was called upon for the multi-inning save. The sophomore left-hander retired all four Tiger hitters he faced over his 1.2 innings of work.

Aiming for the sweep, Max Alba took the mound for the Diamond Heels in the series finale. The redshirt freshman’s outing was very similar to what we saw from Love in game one of the series.

In the first inning, Clemson took an early lead on a two-run home run. Just like Love did just two days prior, Alba was able to settle down after the Tigers struck first.

The right-hander went on to pitch 7.2 innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. He was able to hold the Tigers offense at bay until the eighth inning before turning the game over to the bullpen.

This series saw a few re-occurring trends. We mentioned how Love and Alba had similar outings on the mound, and how Inclan homered in each of the first two games (hold on, he STILL wasn’t done!). The final trend came in regards to the Diamond Heels offense, as one inning of offensive production helped lead them to victory.

In game three, the offensive action came right away, as the Diamond Heels scored all five of their runs in the bottom half of the first inning. After a Roberts sacrifice-fly, Serretti gave the Tar Heels a 2-1 lead with his RBI double. A few batters later, Inclan hit a two-run homer, which marks his fourth consecutive game with a homer. To cap off the inning, Tomas Frick hit an RBI double to help extend the lead.

After six consecutive scoreless innings between both sides, the action got intense in the eighth inning. With two outs in the inning, Forbes decided to lift Alba from the game after he issued a walk. The combination of Shawn Rapp and Connor Ollio could not get the job done, as they allowed two consecutive Tigers hitters to reach base.

Once again, Forbes turned to O’Brien for the save, and his outing didn’t start off as planned. The left-hander hit the first batter he faced, which brought in a run for Clemson. That was all the damage the Tigers would do, as the next batter flew out to right field to end the inning.

O’Brien came back out for the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning to secure the series sweep.

After struggling against Virginia Tech the weekend before, it was a great sign to see the Diamond Heels get back on track. They will look to build on their momentum as they are back in action early on this week.

Similar to last week’s schedule, the Diamond Heels will have a short one-game series against Liberty on Tuesday afternoon. This time, the Tar Heels will travel to Lynchburg, VA for their non-conference action. First pitch for the one-game series is scheduled for 4:00 PM.

Next. UNC Basketball: Armando Bacot named to All-ACC Tournament First Team. dark

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