UNC Grabs ACC Regular Season Title
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A six-run eighth inning propelled No. 2 North Carolina (47-7, 21-6 ACC) to its first ACC Regular Season Championship since 1990 Friday night as the Tar Heels downed No. 7 Virginia (44-9, 21-8 ACC), 8-5.
Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning the Tar Heels were facing an uphill battle as Virginia entered the contest 37-0 when leading after seven innings and had closer Kyle Crockett on the mound.
After a fly out put one out on the board, Brian Holberton hit a ball that short-hopped the shortstop as the junior reached first base on an error.
Michael Russell then turned on a Crockett offering and sent it into the left center field gap for a RBI triple as the Tar Heels pulled within two at 5-3.
A hit by pitch would put runners on the corners for Mike Zolk who laced a pitch to right center that one-hopped the wall. Russell would walk home to score and Cody Stubbs raced around from first to tie the contest at 5-5 before Zolk slid around the tag at third for his first triple of the season.
The senior outfielder lined a ball past the third baseman and into right field to push the Tar Heels in front, 6-5.
Carolina would not stop there as Landon Lassiter dropped an offering from reliever Josh Sborz down the right field line to add another run ahead of a Colin Moran RBI fielder's choice. The run batted in for Moran was his 80th of the season as the junior third baseman joined Marshall Hubbard (2004) and Scott Johnson (1985) as the only Tar Heels to reach the RBI plateau.
Freshman closer Trent Thornton came on for the top half of the ninth inning and struck out all three Cavaliers he faced to earn his sixth save of the year.
Sophomore right-hander Chris McCue improved to 6-0 on the year as he kept the Tar Heels in the contest by allowing one run over 2.1 innings of work out of the bullpen.
Carolina fell behind 3-0 after three and a half innings of action Friday night as Mike Papi doubled in a run in the third inning against starter Benton Moss and the Cavaliers used a Brandon Downes solo home run followed by a Kenny Towns RBI single in the fourth.
Zolk came through with his first big hit of the night in the bottom of the fourth when he doubled off the right field wall scoring Michael Russell who singled and Cody Stubbs who walked with two outs in the frame.
A solo home run off the bat of Mike Papi opened the fifth inning for Virginia before the Cavaliers used a Reed Gragnani sacrifice fly in the eighth to add to their lead before the furious comeback by the Tar Heels in the bottom half of the frame.
Michael Russell finished the night a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and a RBI, while Landon Lassiter contributed three hits and a RBI. Zolk matched a career high with four RBIs in the win for the Tar Heels.
The win assures the Tar Heels of the top spot in next week's ACC Tournament as Carolina claimed their fifth ACC Coastal Division title since 2006 and first ACC Regular Season crown since 1990.