No. 5 Heels Claim 4-3 Win Over No. 8 FSU
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- No. 5 North Carolina used a two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth inning Monday night to scratch out a 4-3 win over visiting No. 8 Florida State.
After back-to-back ground outs to open the eighth inning, Cody Stubbs stepped in for the Tar Heels against FSU reliever Jameis Winston. Stubbs fell behind 1-2 in the count and missed on Winston's offering for what appeared to be the final out of the inning.
Winston's pitch found the dirt and skipped to the backstop for a wild pitch as Stubbs raced down to first to give the Tar Heels life in the eighth.
Michael Russell quickly moved Stubbs to third when he split the gap in left center for a single to put runners on the corners with two outs.
Florida State head coach Mike Martin made a visit to the mound as Brian Holberton stepped into the batter's box but Martin elected to leave Winston in the game. The first pitch Holberton saw, the junior catcher lined a single to center field that scored Stubbs from third and gave the Tar Heels a 4-3 lead.
Carolina struck in the first inning for the 26th time this season when Chaz Frank singled to center, stole second base and moved to third on a ground out. Skye Bolt laced a single to center field to score Frank and give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
Florida State quickly evened things back up at 1-1 in the top of the second against starter Chris Munnelly. A RBI double off the bat of John Sansone over Colin Moran's head at third base tied the contest.
Michael Russell put the Tar Heels back in front in the fourth when Skye Bolt and Cody Stubbs reached to open the inning with back-to-back singles. Russell dropped a single into right center field and the pair came around to score and give Carolina a 3-1 lead.
The Seminoles struck for single runs in the fifth and sixth innings against reliever Reilly Hovis before loading the bases in the seventh against a trio of Tar Heel relievers.
Closer Trent Thornton entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh to face Jose Brizuela who had singeld and tripled earlier in the contest. Thornton forced a shallow fly ball to center field that was tracked down by Chaz Frank for the final out of the inning.
Thornton tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts before the Tar Heels pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom half.
The Tar Heels erased a leadoff base runner in the top of the ninth when Colin Moran, Michael Russell and Cody Stubbs turned an attempted sacrifice bunt attempt into a 5-6-3 double play. Thornton would strike out Josh Delph for the final out of the game as he improved to 9-1 on the year.
Carolina finishes the regular season with a school-best 48 wins, three more than the 45 wins posted by the 2006, 2007 and 2008 squads.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a trip to Durham, N.C. and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the ACC Tournament. Carolina opens Thursday at 3 p.m. against Miami before facing Clemson (Fri. at 7 p.m.) and NC State (Sat. at 7 p.m.).