UNC beats best reliever in the country, win on Stokely’s game-ending HR

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — No. 13 North Carolina did what few teams in the country can do — overcome fireballing Miami closer Andrew Walters.

Walters, rated by D1 Baseball as the top closer in the country, was one strike away from finishing off the Tar Heels in the bottom of the 10th inning. But UNC outfielder Casey Cook hit a 3–2 pitch 359 feet and just over the right field wall for his second home run of the season and the second homer off Walters in 20⅓ innings this season.

“For Casey Cook could step up there against that guy? That dude is a dude, and I think it’s gonna be the big leagues quickly,” UNC coach Scott Forbes said. “That tells you all you need to know about Casey Cook.”

Hunter Stokely took care of the rest with his first career game-ending hit, a solo shot to right-center field with two outs in the 11th inning, to give the Tar Heels a much-need 9–8 victory Saturday over Miami in the resumption of Friday night’s suspended game.

“I’ve never had emotions like that in baseball before,” said Stokely, adding that he “kind of blacked out” as he touched second base and doesn’t remember what was going through his head.

It ended a crazy game that took two days and required the Tar Heels (24–11, 9–6 ACC) to erase a six-run, fourth-inning deficit. After getting the final out, Nik Pry (1–0) was the winner. Walters’ relief, Ronaldo Gallo (0–3) got the loss.

Walters gave up two hits and one run with five strikeouts while throwing 51 pitches in three innings for the Canes (21–13, 9–8).

The game resumed with one out in the eighth inning and Miami’s Jacoby Long at third base. UNC tagged out Long who was running on a ground ball trying to score, and reliever Kevin Eaise induced an inning-ending groundout.

Miami’a Dominic Pitelli hit a home run to lead off the 10th inning off UNC reliever Dalton Pence. Center fielder Vance Honeycutt leaped but couldn’t snag the ball as it went over the wall.

On Friday, UNC right-hander Connor Bovair (4–2) struggled for his second consecutive start after never giving up more than three earned runs before that this season. He yielded five runs in five innings last weekend at Georgia Tech before lasting only three innings against the Canes, giving up five hits, six runs and four walks.  

Carolina starters have given up at least four runs in three consecutive ACC games and five of the last seven.

Bovair needed 34 pitches to escape the first inning with two Miami runs. He had two strikes on every batter that inning, but gave up an RBI single to Yohandy Morales and an RBI double to Zach Levenson with nobody out before getting out of the inning with two strikeouts.

Miami made it 6–0 with a pair of third-inning home runs: Blake Cyr’s 424-foot solo shot to center field in the third, and Carlos Perez’s 411-foot two-run homer to left.

DH Austin Hawke scored UNC’s first run when he walked and came home on Colby Wilkerson’s double down the left-field line in the third inning. Stokely tripled on a drive high off the center-field wall in the fourth to drive in a run, and Tomas Frick drove him in with a single to right.

UNC surged to a 7–6 lead with four six-inning runs on Hawke’s RBI single to center, Casey Cook’s opposite-field two-run triple down the left-field line and Mac Horvath’s RBI double. It was Hawke’s second hit of the season and first since March 5.

Freshman right-hander Cameron Padgett had his best outing since his college debut against Seton Hall on Feb. 18 (4⅓ shutout innings), giving up two hits and one run in 3⅔ innings. The one run, which tied the game, was after he gave up a leadoff walk in the seventh to Dario Gomez, who later scored on a sacrifice fly off Matt Poston.

Carolina outfielder Patrick Alvarez, who injured his left hamate bone in Thursday’s game, was wearing a brace on that hand and is expected to be out for a while.

No. 13 UNC 9, Miami 8, 11 innings

(current rank)
17Friday10–8 LSeton HallHome0–1
18Saturday11–2 WSeton HallHome1–1
19Sunday4–2 WSeton HallHome2–1
21Tuesday14–2 WRadfordHome3–1
22Wed.10–0 WLongwoodHome4–1
24Friday6–5 LNo. 15 East CarolinaGreenville4–2
26Sunday6–5 LNo. 15 East CarolinaHome4–3
28Tuesday10–4 WVCUHome5–3
1Wed.14–10 WVCUHome6–3
3Friday3–2 W
11 innings
Stony BrookHome7–3
4Saturday7–5 WStony BrookHome8–3
5Sunday15–4 WStony BrookHome9–3
7Tuesday8–4 W,
5 innings
Western CarolinaHome10–3
8Wed.15–5 WPenn StateHome11–3
10Friday7–3 LNo. 11 VirginiaHome11–4,
0–1 ACC
11Saturday8–4 LNo. 11 VirginiaHome11–5,
0–2 ACC
11Saturday6–0 WNo. 11 VirginiaHome12–5,
1–2 ACC
14Tuesday16–3 WCharlotteCharlotte13–5
15Wed.16–2 WHigh PointHome14–5
17, 18Friday,
17–7 WPittsburghPittsburgh15–5,
2–2 ACC
21Tuesday6–4 WN.C. A&THome16–5
23Thursday6–3 WDukeHome17–5,
3–2 ACC
24Friday8–5 LDukeHome17–6,
3–3 ACC
25Saturday5–3 WDukeHome18–6,
4–3 ACC
28Tuesday12–7 LNo. 9 Coastal CarolinaHome18–7
31Friday10–8 WNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind.19–7,
5–3 ACC
2Sunday5–2 WNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind.20–7,
6–3 ACC
2Sunday9–1 LNotre DameSouth Bend, Ind20–8,
6–4 ACC
4Tuesday5–0 LSouth CarolinaCharlotte20–9
6Thursday8–1 WGeorgia TechAtlanta21–9,
7–4 ACC
7Friday10–6 WGeorgia TechAtlanta22–9,
8–4 ACC
7Friday8–4 LGeorgia TechAtlanta22–10,
8–5 ACC
11Tuesday10–6 WQueensHome23–10
13Thursday5–4 LNo. 8 MiamiHome23–11,
8–6 ACC
9–8 W,
11 inn.
No. 8 MiamiHome24–11,
9–6 ACC
15Saturday4–3 LNo. 8 MiamiHome24–12,
9–7 ACC
18Tuesday5–3 WCharlotteHome25–12
21Friday9–8 L,
10 inn.
Boston CollegeHome25–13,
9–8 ACC
22Saturday9–4 LBoston CollegeHome25–14,
9–9 ACC
23Sunday6–2 LBoston CollegeHome25–15,
9–10 ACC
25Tuesday18–2 WUNCWHome26–15
28Friday7–0 LVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.26–16,
9–11 ACC
29Saturday12–8 WVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.27–16,
10–11 ACC
29Saturday13–7 WVirginia TechBlacksburg, Va.28–16,
11–11 ACC
2Tuesday6–5 LNo. 11 CampbellHome28–17
3Wed.2–1 WNo. 15 East CarolinaGreenville29–17
9Tuesday5–4 WGardner-WebbHome30–17
11Thursday9–8 WN.C. StateHome31–17,
12–11 ACC
12Friday9–3 WN.C. StateHome32–17,
13–11 ACC
13Saturday12–2 WN.C. StateHome33–17,
14–11 ACC
16Tuesday8–6 LNo. 9 Coastal CarolinaConway, S.C.33–18
18Thursday14–7 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–19,
14–12 ACC
19Friday5–4 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–20,
14–13 ACC
20Saturday3–1 LNo. 3 ClemsonClemson, S.C.33–21,
14–14 ACC
ACC tournament
23Tuesday11–5 WGeorgia TechDurham34–21
25Thursday10–2 WNo. 11 VirginiaDurham35–21
27Saturday10–4 LSemifinal vs.
No. 3 Clemson
JuneNCAA tournament
Terre Haute Regional
2Friday5–4 LIowaTerre Haute, Ind.35–23
3Saturday5–0 WWright StateTerre Haute, Ind.36–23
4Sunday6–5 L,
13 innings
Iowa Terre Haute, Ind.36–24
Rankings according to D1Baseball

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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