No. 2 North Carolina Rallies Late to Top No. 7 Baseball, 8-5
May 17, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.– Second-ranked North Carolina scored six runs in the eighth inning to rally from a 5-2 deficit and knock off the No. 7-ranked Virginia baseball team, 8-5, Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,100 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill. Virginia (44-9, 21-8) had its six-game win streak snapped as the Tar Heels (47-7, 21-6 ACC) evened the series at a game apiece and also clinched the ACC Coastal Division title.
The loss was Virginia’s first this year when leading after seven innings. Entering play Friday, UVa was 38-0 when leading after seven innings. With the defeat, the Cavaliers have secured the No. 3 seed in the upcoming ACC Baseball Championship, which will be held next Wednesday through Sunday (May 22-26) in Durham, N.C.
Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles to extend hi hit streak to a career-best 12 games. Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) doubled and homered to continue his hot streak, while Brandon Downes(So., South Plainfield, N.J.) also homered as part of a 2-for-4 day.
UVa reliever Kyle Crockett(Jr., Poquoson, Va.) took the loss and fell to 4-1 after allowing six runs (four earned) in two-thirds of an inning. UNC reliever Chris McCue (6-0) claimed the win with 2 1/3 innings of one-run relief, while Trent Thornton struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his sixth save.
Virginia starting pitcher Scott Silverstein(R-Sr., Olney, Md.) worked six innings of two-run baseball, allowing seven hits and a walk while fanning four. North Carolina starting pitcher Benton Moss tossed 5 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs and eight hits. He struck out four.
Virginia scored the game’s first run in the third inning. With one out Nate Irving(So., Yonkers, N.Y.) hit a slow dribbler down the third-base line and reached for a single. He came all the way around to score when Papi doubled to the right-center field gap.
The Cavaliers stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Downes led off with an opposite-field home run to right-center, his team-leading eighth long ball of the year. Fisher followed with a double to left-center. He advanced to third as Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) struck out swinging for the second out. On a 1-2 pitch, Kenny Towns(So., Burke, Va.) grounded a single back up the middle, bring Fisher home.
North Carolina staged a two-out rally of its own in its half of the fourth. After two were out, Michael Russell singled to center and Cody Stubbs drew a walk. Mike Zolk followed with a double off the base of the right-field wall, scoring both runners to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 3-2.
Papi quickly extended the lead to 4-2 in the fifth inning when he homered over the right-center field wall. The blast was his sixth of the year.
Virginia manufactured a run in the eighth inning. Downes blooped a single to right to lead off, and Fisher followed with a single to center. Nick Howard(So., Olney, Md.) bunted the runners over, and Gragnani hit the 0-2 pitch to left field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Downes and pushing the lead to 5-2.
The Tar Heels rallied for six runs in their half of the eighth to pull out the win. With one out Brian Holberton reached on an error and then scored when Russell tripled to left-center. After Stubbs was hit by a pitch, Zolk lined a triple to right-center, scoring both runners to tie the game. Crockett walked Parks Jordan before Chaz Frank lined the go-ahead single through the drawn-in infield and into left field. Facing UVa reliever Josh Sborz(Fr., McLean, Va.), Landon Lassiter hit a run-scoring single to right, giving UNC a 7-5 lead. Colin Moran then grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Frank scoring on the play to push the lead to 8-5.
The finale of the series and the Cavaliers’ regular season will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3 will have the live webcast of the game, while WINA 1070-AM will have the local radio coverage. Select stations along the Virginia Sports Radio Network also will have live coverage.