North Carolina came into Wednesday night knowing what was at stake. Win or go home, simple as that.
In a rematch against the No. 3 Oregon State Beavers, this would be no easy task. UNC fought for the entirety of the game, but the firepower of the Beavers proved too great as the Tar Heels lost 11-6.
Similar to Saturday’s game, the fireworks started early in this one. The Beavers slugged two home runs — by Adley Rutschman and Cadyn Grenier — in the first inning to take a 2-0 advantage. They tacked on another in the third with a double, chasing UNC starter Cooper Criswell in the process.
Criswell gave way to Caden O’Brien, and the freshman really had his A-game tonight. He would go 4.1 innings, while ceding only one run.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Tar Heels were able to find their footing. After singles by Ben Casparius and Kyle Datres, Michael Busch reached on an error, loading the bases with no outs.
Cody Roberts was able to provide some situational hitting with an RBI ground out, then Brandon Riley came through with a bounding double — that looked foul — to bring in the tying runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, UNC threatened again. Good at bats, but an absence of timely hitting led to two UNC runners being left on base. This was a bit of a problem for the Tar Heels throughout the game, as they left six runners on base in the first five innings, and going 2-13 with runners in scoring position during this span.
It was the sixth when the Tar Heels finally got the big blow — A Kyle Datres laser home run off the left field foul pole, driving in Brandon Martorano — to give UNC a 6-3 lead.
This was a significant cushion for two reasons. One being a three run lead, and two being the fact UNC was 50-0 coming into this game when they scored six or more runs.
But that did not faze Oregon State. The Beavers brought a slew of hitters up to the plate in the top of the eighth, scoring three runs on an Rutschman double to tie the game. Brett Daniels walked in another to give Oregon State a 7-6 lead.
UNC got a runner to second in the eight, but he was left there — the eighth runner UNC left on in this one.
In total, Oregon State scored eight runs across the last two innings, proving to be far too much for the Tar Heels to handle
Things unraveled in the ninth, and ultimately doomed UNC. The Tar Heels finish 44-20, and 1-2 in Omaha.