UNC Baseball Breaks Out the Brooms Against NC State

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 27: Max Carlson #35 of North Carolina throws a pitch during a game between Virginia and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on February 27, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 27: Max Carlson #35 of North Carolina throws a pitch during a game between Virginia and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on February 27, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

It was a fantastic weekend for the UNC baseball program as they wrapped up the home 2023 baseball season with a series sweep of rival NC State!

The UNC baseball program entered this weekend hoping to add to its NCAA Tournament resume and pick up a series win against their rival, NC State.

Before the series started, the Tar Heels received the unfortunate news that several players would be suspended for one game due to an altercation during their mid-week game vs Gardner-Webb.

NC State jumped on top quickly in the first game of the series with five early runs in the first inning and it appeared that Carolina could be headed for a long weekend. The Tar Heels settled down and answered with four runs over the next three innings, highlighted by a Vance Honeycutt two-RBI double, to cut the deficit to 5-4.

The Wolfpack stretched the lead back out to three when they took an 8-5 lead on an RBI single in the seventh inning. The Tar Heels would have productive eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, Jackson Van De Brake and Honeycutt would both have RBI hits to get the Diamond Heels within a run at 8-7.

Trailing by a run in the ninth, Carolina made it exciting for UNC baseball fans. Hunter Stokely got the rally started with a leadoff walk. Reece Holbrook pinch-ran for Stokely and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Gutsy call from manager Scott Forbes, who received a contract extension this week, to pinch-hit for Eric Grintz for Alberto Osuna.

Grintz came to the plate with one out and the game-tying run on second just needing a base hit to tie the game. Grintz came up huge with an RBI triple down the right field line and setting up the ensuing play for the win:

Colby Wilkerson laid down a perfect bunt to execute the suicide squeeze for the 9-8 win in game one.

After an exciting game one where the Tar Heels came back from a five-run deficit, the rest of the weekend was all Carolina blue at The Bosh as the Wolfpack never led the rest of the series.

In game two, Casey Cook kept his on-base streak going and set a new UNC freshman record at 38 games straight.

The Tar Heels would lead the Wolfpack 6-0 through six innings in game two highlighted by a Johnny Castagnozzi two-RBI single and a solo home run from Mac Horvath. The Wolfpack were able to pick up one on a solo home run and make it 6-1.

In the seventh inning, the Diamond Heels would load the bases and then NC State walked three consecutive Tar Heels with the bases loaded to give Carolina a 9-1 lead going to the eighth. The Pack wouldn’t be able to overcome the large deficit and the Tar Heels took game two, and the series win, with a 9-3 victory.

Game three was even more dominating than game two. Carolina wasn’t messing around on Senior Day at The Bosh against their rivals.

The Tar Heels led 11-0 through five innings. Most of the runs came on RBI singles from Horvath, Stokely, Wilkerson (twice), and Castagnozzi. Honeycutt and Van De Brake also had singles that resulted in two RBIs each. Horvath and Castagnozzi tacked on with sacrifice flies for an RBI each as well.

North Carolina called off the dogs, scoring only one run the rest of the game, taking game three with a 12-2 win, and breaking out the brooms against the rival Wolfpack.

NC State scored the first five runs of the series in the first inning of game one and would be outscored by Carolina 30-8 during the rest of the series. A few fun facts from Pat James on the NC State-UNC baseball rivalry:

Not only is it five in a row, the Tar Heels have won 21 of the last 34 matchups against NC State. This is now five straight wins for the UNC baseball program. It’s always great to sweep your rival, but Carolina may have put the nail in the coffin on the Wolfpack’s season and ended their NCAA Tournament hopes.

A few weeks ago we were discussing the NCAA Tournament bubble and the need for resume-building wins. The Tar Heels have certainly achieved that heading into the final week of the regular season.

Next up for Carolina will be a mid-week trip to Conway, South Carolina to face no. 8 ranked Coastal Carolina on Tuesday at 6 PM before heading to no. 16 Clemson for the final weekend of the regular season next week.

dark. Next. UNC Baseball: Max Carlson returning to starting rotation

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