By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — With final exams underway at Carolina, the Tar Heels failed in the first of two tests this week against ranked teams as their frustrations in one-run games continued.
UNC got stellar defense and some, but not enough, timely hitting, but it wasn’t enough as No. 13 Campbell rallied for a 6–5 victory Tuesday at Boshamer Stadium to end a seven-game skid against the Tar Heels.
UNC (28–17), which gets another test at 5 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN+) at No. 14 East Carolina, blew a one-run lead in the ninth. Then, the Heels had the potential winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth when Alberto Osuna hit into a game-ending double play.
“They didn’t look like they were pressing tonight; it looked like they were in every single pitch,” said UNC coach Scott Forbes, whose team fell to 2–6 in one-run games and 4–13 against teams currently in the D1 Baseball Top 25. “And we just did not get it done … another one-run loss. We’ve got to find a way down the stretch.”
Tar Heels pitchers had their moments, but with many tired arms, the Camels were too much for UNC. It was another short outing from a starter, with freshman right-hander Cameron Padgett only going 2⅔ innings.
“We were running thin on the mound because of the doubleheader,” Forbes said of his team’s sweep of Saturday’s twin-bill at Virginia Tech. “We’re running thin because we haven’t got enough length with our starters.”
Junior right-hander Matt Poston (loser, 2–2), who was only going to pitch on an emergency basis, threw 32 pitches over 2⅔ innings. Meanwhile, Campbell (32–10) hadn’t played in a week and had plenty of rested pitchers.
“We need to win that game 5 to 3,” Forbes said. “We’ve got to hold them off in some way, shape or form.”
Camels right-hander Ty Cummings (winner, 3–1) struck out three in 2⅔ innings, and right-hander Aaron Rund pitched the ninth inning for his fifth save.
“They threw good arms at us,” Forbes said. “They’re older guys. This is one of the better teams they’ve had, especially on the mound talking to [Campbell] Coach [Justin] Haire about it. All their guys had strikeout stuff, and they made some pretty good pitches.”
The Camels, hitting .314 for the season and among the top eight in the country in four categories (first in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging percentage, second in runs per game and eighth in home runs), showed why they have one of the bests offenses in the country.
“I think we made some good pitches,” junior catcher Tomas Frick (top photo) said. “I think they also had some really good swings. I don’t think we made too many mistakes.”
Junior Mac Horvath played his third consecutive game at third base and showed the reason he’s there by making a nice play on a drive down the line. In his first college start, freshman Carter French took an outfield spot and was solid defensively in left field with a few nice plays while driving in his first college run on his second college hit.
UNC played errorless ball and got other outstanding plays, including junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake making a diving catch in short right field (above tweet) in the fourth and sophomore center fielder Vance Honeycutt a running catch in center field.
Van De Brake’s play was No. 4 in the Top 10 Plays segment on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” the fourth UNC defensive play to make that segment this season after earlier plays by Casey Cook in right field, Honeycutt in center field and Patrick Alvarez in left field.
Carolina nearly turned a triple play in the seventh inning after Horvath fielded a grounder at third.
All that defense couldn’t overcome the pitching lapses.
Forbes said the exam break would be good for his team.
“We’ve got some guys that are playing banged up; they’re not 100%,” Forbes said. “That will really help us at least recover.
“But we want to get that win, so we’re going to have to suck it up and figure it out,” he said of the ECU game. “But, after that, you’ve six days to let your body recover, and we got some guys that might have to get into that ice bath or have a couple of small procedures just to help them recover.”
Campbell left fielder Drew Winters made Padgett pay for hitting a batter with two outs in the second inning. He lofted an opposite-field two-run homer over the right-center field fence right (where it juts in only 355 feet away from the plate) for the only hit off Padgett.
Frick led off the UNC second inning with an infield single and scored on French’s two-out single up the middle.
Fifth-year Carolina right-handed reliever Kevin Eaise inherited a baserunner at first with two outs in the third inning in relief of Padgett, who walked two and struck out one in 43 pitches. After a walk, DH Logan Jordan drove in a run with a single to left. Eaise struck out Winters to leave the bases loaded.
Frick gave UNC the lead when he hit a shot 415 feet over the building beyond left field for a two-run homer in the four-run third. That came after junior first baseman Hunter Stokely’s two-run single to short right field.
“Just trying to stay as calm as possible in the box and getting my pitches,” Frick said, explaining his surge of offense in recent games.
UNC junior right-hander Ben Peterson retired eight of his first nine batters, but exited after giving up three consecutive hits — including Bryce Arnold’s two-run homer to left field. He gave up four hits, two runs and no walks while striking out two in 2⅔ innings.
“I thought Ben was outstanding. I just thought they hit his mistakes,” Forbes said.
Poston retired five of his first six batters before leaving after giving up a double, a single and hitting two batters, both on splitters, to force in the winning run in the ninth inning.
“He might have been just a little tired,” Frick said of Poston. “He’s battling. He gives everything he’s got. And I think those two [pitches that hit batters] just got away from him.”
Fifth-year reliever Nik Pry got out of the inning, inducing a groundout that forced out a runner at the plate, then striking out a batter and having a baserunner tagged out at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
NOTES — Carolina tries to salvage a game from their three meetings with East Carolina after the Pirates won 6–5 games on Feb. 24 and 26. The Pirates (31–13) haven’t played since beating Tulane 8–6 at home Saturday. … Right-hander Connor Bovair will start against ECU on four days’ rest, with right-hander Max Carlson and left-hander Dalton Pence available out of the bullpen, both on three days’ rest. … Cook extended his on-base streak to 34 games, three away from Colin Moran’s streak of 37 as the longest by a freshman since 1999. … Horvath stole two bases to became the third player in program history with at least 40 career home runs and at least 40 career steals (42 homers and 40 steals), joining Jarrett Shearin (40 home runs, 50 steals; 1996–99) and Chad Flack (42 homers, 42 steals; 2005–08) … UNC leads the all-time series with Campbell 39–10.
No. 13 Campbell 6, UNC 5
|17||Friday||10–8 L||Seton Hall||Home||0–1|
|18||Saturday||11–2 W||Seton Hall||Home||1–1|
|19||Sunday||4–2 W||Seton Hall||Home||2–1|
|24||Friday||6–5 L||No. 15 East Carolina||Greenville||4–2|
|26||Sunday||6–5 L||No. 15 East Carolina||Home||4–3|
|4||Saturday||7–5 W||Stony Brook||Home||8–3|
|5||Sunday||15–4 W||Stony Brook||Home||9–3|
|8||Wed.||15–5 W||Penn State||Home||11–3|
|10||Friday||7–3 L||No. 11 Virginia||Home||11–4,|
|11||Saturday||8–4 L||No. 11 Virginia||Home||11–5,|
|11||Saturday||6–0 W||No. 11 Virginia||Home||12–5,|
|15||Wed.||16–2 W||High Point||Home||14–5|
|17–7 W||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||15–5, |
|21||Tuesday||6–4 W||N.C. A&T||Home||16–5|
|23||Thursday||6–3 W||Duke||Home||17–5, |
|24||Friday||8–5 L||Duke||Home||17–6, |
|25||Saturday||5–3 W||Duke||Home||18–6, |
|28||Tuesday||12–7 L||No. 9 Coastal Carolina||Home||18–7|
|31||Friday||10–8 W||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||19–7, |
|2||Sunday||5–2 W||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||20–7, |
|2||Sunday||9–1 L||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind||20–8, |
|4||Tuesday||5–0 L||South Carolina||Charlotte||20–9|
|6||Thursday||8–1 W||Georgia Tech||Atlanta||21–9, |
|7||Friday||10–6 W||Georgia Tech||Atlanta||22–9, |
|7||Friday||8–4 L||Georgia Tech||Atlanta||22–10, |
|13||Thursday||5–4 L||No. 8 Miami||Home||23–11, |
|9–8 W, |
|No. 8 Miami||Home||24–11, |
|15||Saturday||4–3 L||No. 8 Miami||Home||24–12, |
|Boston College||Home||25–13, |
|22||Saturday||9–4 L||Boston College||Home||25–14, |
|23||Sunday||6–2 L||Boston College||Home||25–15, |
|28||Friday||7–0 L||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||26–16, |
|29||Saturday||12–8 W||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||27–16, |
|29||Saturday||13–7 W||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||28–16, |
|2||Tuesday||6–5 L||No. 11 Campbell||Home||28–17|
|3||Wed.||2–1 W||No. 15 East Carolina||Greenville||29–17|
|11||Thursday||9–8 W||N.C. State||Home||31–17, |
|12||Friday||9–3 W||N.C. State||Home||32–17, |
|13||Saturday||12–2 W||N.C. State||Home||33–17, |
|16||Tuesday||8–6 L||No. 9 Coastal Carolina||Conway, S.C.||33–18|
|18||Thursday||14–7 L||No. 3 Clemson||Clemson, S.C.||33–19, |
|19||Friday||5–4 L||No. 3 Clemson||Clemson, S.C.||33–20, |
|20||Saturday||3–1 L||No. 3 Clemson||Clemson, S.C.||33–21, |
|23||Tuesday||11–5 W||Georgia Tech||Durham||34–21|
|25||Thursday||10–2 W||No. 11 Virginia||Durham||35–21|
|27||Saturday||10–4 L||Semifinal vs.|
No. 3 Clemson
|Terre Haute Regional|
|2||Friday||5–4 L||Iowa||Terre Haute, Ind.||35–23|
|3||Saturday||5–0 W||Wright State||Terre Haute, Ind.||36–23|
|Iowa||Terre Haute, Ind.||36–24|
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications