In baseball, slumps happen. There are multiple ways to get out of a skid, but the Diamond Heels used everyone's favorite. Babe Ruth made it famous and it’s a surefire way to put some runs on the board — home runs.
UNC baseball went on a longball tear in its weekend sweep of Liberty, driving six baseballs over the fence and outscoring the Flames 36-15 along with way.
It all started with Zack Gahagan’s sixth inning home run on Friday, which paved the way for Brandon Riley to leave the park in that same inning. When the dust settled Friday, UNC (7-5) walked off the field with a 17-2 victory over Liberty (6-5) — a much-needed offensive explosion given the 3-5 start to the season.
Saturday was much of the same for the Tar Heels. They dropped the Flames, 6-5, in a game that could prove to be a nice momentum booster, as the Heels were on the right side of a one-run final. Michael Busch fired the first Heel home run in this one for UNC, driving a ball over the fence with Riley on board to take a 2-1 advantage in the first inning.
With the Tar Heels down 5-4 in the fourth inning, Brandon Martorano joined the longball brigade to tie it up, which led to a Busch RBI-double in the seventh that put the score at its final resting place.
The streak continued on Sunday, as Riley and Martorano both left the building in North Carolina’s 13-8 victory.
Martorano now leads the Tar Heels with four home runs, but he only has seven RBIs to show for it. Busch is second on the team with three home runs — tying his total for all of 2018 — and has driven in a team-leading 20 runs.
With the bats finally coming to life, UNC has put together a solid four-game winning streak. Kicking off with Tuesday’s 10-0 win versus High Point, the Tar Heels accumulated 41 hits — including a 17 hit outburst on Friday — over that stretch, much better than in the early losses. This is all coming at the right time, as the Tar Heels host VCU on Tuesday before traveling to Louisville for an ACC-opening weekend series against the Cardinals.
It’s worth noting that UNC saw a mixup for their weekend rotation. Tyler Baum moved to Friday, Austin Bergner on Saturday and Caden O'Brien taking the hill on Sunday. Ace Gianluca Dalatri did not take the mound this weekend, and his status is worth monitoring moving forward.