Forbes admits he might be tearful when versatile leader Horvath moves on

By R.L. Bynum

DURHAM — When the day comes that UNC coach Scott Forbes can’t write junior Mac Horvath’s name on his lineup card, that will be a tough reality for the third-year head coach.

Forbes’ juniors, including catcher Tomas Frick and others, hold a special place for the coach since they were freshmen during his first season when they all had to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions.

“These guys had to deal with a lot, too. COVID was tough,” said Forbes, whose No. 7-seed Tar Heels (34–21) face No. 12-ranked No. 2-seed Virginia at 3 p.m. Thursday for a berth in the ACC tournament semifinals.

The cornerstone of that group is Horvath, and Forbes admits that he’s not ready to deal with coaching a team that doesn’t include a player with his versatility and leadership.

“Hard work is the key to whatever you’re doing, and Mac is one of those kids that … I try not to cry,” Forbes said. “But when he leaves, I’m probably going to be crying by myself somewhere because these guys, man, they work, and they lead by example. When you do that, you always have a chance to have a pretty solid team.”

Horvath could have made good money signing a professional contract after last season, but decided to return for another season.

Horvath somehow only made second-team All-ACC despite being the only player in the league with at least 20 home runs (22) and steals (tied for the lead with 23).

He is among the league leaders in runs (third), total bases (fourth), RBI (fifth) and slugging percentage (sixth). He has hit two home runs in four games this season and is one of UNC’s best defenders, whether it’s showing his range at third base or using his speed and good arm to excel in right field or center field.

“He didn’t roll on campus like Dustin Ackley, where he just was going to get 100 hits every year,” Forbes said. “He’s made himself into who he is. There’s no secret sauce. Hard work is the key and whatever you’re doing.”

The Rochester, Minn., native went from hitting .227 with five homers and no steals as a freshman, to .268 with 18 homers and 19 steals last season, to hitting .314 with a .723 slugging percentage this season.

Horvath has shown leadership on and off the field. He called a player’s-only meeting when Boston College was sweeping the Tar Heels, and he noticed that many of his teammates weren’t as upset about losing as he was.

His home run off the building behind the Blue Monster in left field sparked Carolina’s 11–5 victory Tuesday in the Tar Heels’ ACC tournament opener. The ball bounced off the wall of the building and back onto the Durham Bulls Athletic Park field, a feat that has happened about a dozen times in Durham Bulls games in the last 28 years, according to longtime PA announcer Tony Rigsbee.

“Offensively, me and Frick both, and other guys being leaders, sometimes you just you gotta hit a big hit to get everyone going,” Horvath said. “And once you get that hit, everyone starts feeling more confident and comfortable at the plate. I don’t know why it works that way. But it’s just, as a team, everyone collectively comes together and starts putting better at-bats together.”

It was important for the coaches and the leaders on the team to help everyone reset after Clemson swept the regular-season-ending series that gave the Tar Heels four consecutive losses.

“I just feel like we really came together, especially when we talked the other day,” Frick said. “We’re like, all right, it’s a new season; we forgot about Clemson. New season. We’re going to come out, we’re gonna get after it. We’re not going to worry about the results. We’re just going to play hard.”

That work continues Thursday against Virginia.

ACC tournament

At Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Pool play
All games on ACC Network
Tuesday’s results

No. 6-seed Boston College 11, No. 10 Virginia Tech 7
No. 7 North Carolina 11, No. 11 Georgia Tech 5
No. 9 N.C. State 8, No. 5 Duke 7, 11 innings
Wednesday’s results
No. 12 Pittsburgh 9, No. 8 Notre Dame 5
No. 2 Virginia 15, No. 11 Georgia Tech 1, 7 innings
No. 3 Clemson 14, No. 10 Virginia Tech 5
Thursday’s results
No. 1 Wake Forest 10, No. 12 Pittsburgh 2
No. 7 North Carolina 10, No. 2 Virginia 2
No. 4 Miami 4, No. 9 N.C. State 2
Friday’s results
No. 3 Clemson 4, No. 6 Boston College 1
No. 4 Miami 7, No. 5 Duke 6
No. 1 Wake Forest 7, No. 8 Notre Dame 5
Saturday’s semifinals
No. 3 Clemson 10, No. 7 North Carolina 4
No. 4 Miami 7, No. 1 Wake Forest 2
Sunday’s championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park
No. 3 Clemson 11, No. 4 Miami 5
Pool A
Wake Forest 2–0
Pittsburgh 1–1
Notre Dame 0–2
Pool B
North Carolina 2–0
Virginia 1–1
Georgia Tech 0–2
Pool C
Clemson 2–0
Boston College 1–1
Virginia Tech 0–2
Pool D
Miami 2–0
N.C. State 1–1
Duke 0–2

UNC statistics

(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 by Jaylynn Nash/ACC


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