Knapp, part of combined shutout of Virginia in March, gets ball as UNC faces red-hot Cavaliers for spot in ACC semifinals

By R.L. Bynum

DURHAM — When North Carolina salvaged a game from its three-game regular-season series with Virginia, the Tar Heels did it by shutting out the Cavaliers in a 7–0 victory.

Junior right-hander Jake Knapp started that game for UNC and will be on the mound at 3 p.m. Thursday in the ACC tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park when the No. 7-seed Tar Heels meet No. 12-ranked and No. 2-seed Virginia for a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.

It is the only time the Cavaliers (45–11), fourth in total runs in league games, have been shut out all season. However, replicating that against a red-hot Virginia team will be challenging.

The Cavaliers thumped Georgia Tech 15–1 Wednesday, in a game shortened to seven innings under the pool-play mercy rule, as they won for the 10th consecutive game, the last four against the Jackets.

“Certainly, it was a hard-fought series,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said of the March series in Chapel Hill. “North Carolina has got a really good ballclub and Knapp is good. So, we’ll turn our attention to what our approach needs to be against him. And I anticipate [Thursday] being a great ballgame, a great atmosphere and a hard-fought game.”

Knapp (4–3, 5.11 ERA) had control issues with four walks in that March 11 game, but gave up only three hits and struck out four in 4⅓ innings. Matt Poston pitched the final 4⅔ innings, giving up two hits and one walk and striking out three to get the win.

Knapp will try to rebound from a bad outing in UNC’s 5–4 Friday loss at Clemson. He gave up five hits and four runs in 3⅔ innings six days after looking sharp in a 12–2 victory May 13 over N.C. State when he pitched a career-long 6+ innings, giving up five hits, two runs and no walks with three strikeouts.

Carolina won’t have to contend with Virginia’s top starter, right-hander Nick Parker, who started against Georgia Tech even though it was meaningless for ACC tournament purposes. He pitched all seven innings, which allowed the Cavaliers to rest their bullpen.

“Pitching seven innings knowing what we have in front of us was huge for us, so we’d have everybody available for [Thursday] out of our bullpen,” O’Connor said.

Instead, Virginia will start junior left-hander Connelly Early (10–1, 3.18 ERA), who didn’t pitch against Carolina but has pitched well over the last month.

“He’s earned that,” O’Connor said of Early. “He’s been one of our most consistent pitchers all year long.”

Junior catcher Kyle Teel, the ACC Player of the Year, is one of four Cavaliers to make All-ACC first team. He led the league in batting average (.393) and total hits (91). His 23 doubles tie for both the ACC lead and the Virginia single-season record. In addition, Teel has 13 homers with 62 RBI (seventh among ACC players), and his .480 on-base percentage is fifth in the league.

Other first-teamers are junior third baseman Jake Gelof (.340, 22 home runs, 84 RBI), junior outfielder Ethan O’Donnell (.341, 13 homers, 52 RBI) and sophomore shortstop Griff O’Ferrall (.396, 38 RBI, 16 steals).

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 courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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