It’s been an up-and-down kind of season for North Carolina baseball. And while the Tar Heels showed signs of life this week, the down trend continued this weekend as they dropped a home series, two games to one, to Florida State.
Due to rain, the three-game series at Boshamer Stadium was pushed into a Friday doubleheader, and a finale on Sunday. While this can be tough for a team, UNC made it look easy early on.
Things started out hot on Friday as the first five men reached base against FSU ace Cole Sands, pushing the Tar Heels out to a 5-0 advantage in the first inning. But that lead lasted only an inning, as the Seminoles pushed across five of their own in the third.
The game went back and forth before UNC broke it open in the seventh inning. In total, seven Tar Heels crossed the plate in the seventh, spearheaded by home runs by Dylan Enwiller and Michael Busch — Busch’s second of the game, giving him a team-leading seven on the season — to put the game out of reach for FSU. A 16-8 final in the first one gave UNC all the momentum heading into the nightcap.
Usually, the winner of the first game of the doubleheader can carry momentum into the second one, taking a series victory in a span of six hours. This was not the case for UNC.
Even with a dazzling 6.1 innings, two earned runs and 10-strikeout performance from Austin Bergner, the Tar Heels could not pull it out. A three-run 10th inningfrom the Seminoles proved to be too much for North Carolina to handle, setting the final score at 6-3, and promptly evening the series at one game apiece.
On Sunday, things got off to a quick start yet again for the Tar Heels. Cody Roberts jumped on the third pitch he saw, blasting a home run to left center to get UNC on the board early. This lead stood until the third, when FSU backstop Cal Raleigh hammered a ball over the right field fence with two men on base to give the Seminoles a 3-1 lead — until the bottom half of the inning.
UNC stormed back, led by a bases loaded hit by pitch from Busch. And a hard hit grounder from Kyle Datres, the Tar Heels knotted it up.
In the fifth inning, it was much of the same. A run from the Seminoles in the top half paved the way for the Tar Heels to tie it up in the bottom half. However, even with the momentum shifts, the Tar Heels could not keep the gas pedal down on FSU.
In the eighth inning, two Seminole home runs — a grand slam by Nick Derr, followed immediately by a solo home run by Jackson Lueck — put the score at 9-4, where it would finish.
Even with the tough games, and no net positive on their record to show for it, the Tar Heels are proving they can hit against the best. Hanging a 16 spot on the No. 8 team in the nation is a very positive sign, as is stealing a win...even if they dropped the next two.
The Tar Heels will be back in action Tuesday in Charlotte as they take on the 49ers.