Horvath swats 2 HRs, streaking Heels roll, get more good pitching from newcomer

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — No. 12 North Carolina continued a productive early pattern of impressive pitching from newcomers and mixed in a power surge.

Junior transfer right-hander Jake Knapp delivered the latest outstanding pitching debut, yielding two hits and striking out four in 5⅔ shutout innings in UNC’s fourth consecutive victory. 

Behind season-highs of 15 hits and three home runs, the Tar Heels finished their season-opening five-game homestand with a 10–0 Wednesday victory at Boshamer Stadium over winless Longwood (0–5).

“I thought today was complete,” UNC coach Scott Forbes said. “I thought we pitched well, didn’t make any errors, timely hitting, ran the bases well, and that’s what you’re looking for. As a coach, you’re looking for a win No. 1, but you want to play the game clean.”

After UNC (4–1) only hit two home runs in the first four games, junior third baseman Mac Horvath (top photo) matched that with his third career two-homer game. He belted a two-run shot in the third inning and solo shot in the eighth, both to left field. Redshirt freshman right fielder Casey Cook swatted a two-run homer to right in the third, his first career home run.

“We were joking about the other day; we were calling us a bunch of singles hitters,” said Horvath, whose second homer left the bat at 106 mph. “Homers come in bunches, so not really too worried about those right now.”

Five Tar Heels collected two hits, including the top of the order of sophomore center fielder Vance Honeycutt (2 for 5 with a steal), Horvath (2 for 5) and Cook (2 for 4.)

“I know we’re gonna hit home runs,” Forbes said. “It’s just a matter of time. Our guys look at the ball well. But, to me, when you’re walking that much, it’s a little bit harder to hit home runs because you’re not getting as many pitches, and you’re a little bit hesitant because the command [from pitchers] is not there. And I think when we face better command, you’re gonna see the home run numbers go up.”

The one-two punch at the top of the lineup of Honeycutt and Horvath will be a challenge for opposing pitchers all season.

“He obviously can steal at any moment,” Horvath said. “If he gets a good jump, and even if it’s a good pitch, I feel comfortable to take it so he can get into scoring position. And then, from there, it makes my job a little bit easier to drive him in.”

Knapp, with many family members and friends in the stands, was efficient and sharp, and got some good defensive plays behind him. Honeycutt went deep in the first inning to snag an Eliot Dix drive and shortstop Colby Wilkerson gloved a low Hayden Harris liner in the third.

Forbes said that the 6–5 Knapp (above photo) didn’t have the preseason he had expected, but the pitcher who grew up as “a Carolina kid” delivered in his first UNC start.

“I thought Knapp was outstanding; he set the tone,” Forbes said.

Knapp, who says he was a late bloomer, would have loved to have gone to UNC directly from Page High School, but he took a circuitous route. He didn’t pitch in his one season at UNCW as a preferred walk-on but kept improving during his two junior college seasons at Walters State. He said it’s awesome to be at UNC.

“Obviously, not the conventional path, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” said Knapp, who wanted to go longer after only throwing 72 pitches. He threw the fastball and slider for strikes and got nine of his 17 outs on fly balls.

“Attacked mostly with the fastball today, and they helped me out, got a lot of one-pitch outs, so it helped me get deep in the game,” Knapp said.

Longwood’s first hit didn’t come until Dix hit a dribbler through the right side of the infield for a single to lead off the fourth. Dix quickly got doubled-up on Gregory Ryan’s lineout to Horvath. Harris singled up the middle in the sixth for the other hit off Knapp.


After Cook’s blast, sophomore left fielder Reece Holbrook, in his first start of the season, made it 4–0 with a two-out, bases-loaded single up the middle in the fifth inning.

Two batters after Horvath’s sixth-inning home run, junior catcher Tomas Frick hit an RBI double down the left field line and scored on a wild pitch.

After Horvath’s eighth-inning blast, sophomore Jesse Jaconski laced an RBI single to center.

Junior UNC transfer right-hander Kevin Eaise got into but worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning. He gave up one hit and struck out five in three innings to earn the save. It was an excellent rebound for him after he gave up three runs in ⅓ of an inning in his UNC debut last weekend.

NOTES — After four wins against teams coming off losing seasons, Carolina gets its first big test of the season this weekend against No. 11 East Carolina (3–1), which comes off a 6–5 10-inning loss at Campbell on Tuesday. The series starts with a game in Greenville at 5 p.m. Friday (ESPN+) and concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday in Chapel Hill (ESPN3). A scheduled Saturday game has been postponed because of the rain that is forecasted… Forbes plans to start left-hander Max Carlson on Friday, left-hander Will Sandy on Saturday and right-hander Connor Bovair on Sunday, but added that he’ll use whoever he needs to win on Friday. … With a forecast of rain in Greenville on Saturday, it’s possible that ECU officials will decide to alter the schedule and play a Friday doubleheader with UNC. … UNC reliever Nik Pry came out after throwing only five pitches, but Forbes said he came out for a matchup situation and not a physical issue. … Horvath hit two home runs last season against Hofstra and Charlotte. … Carolina has scored double-digit runs in four of five games. … Carolina is 3–0 all-time against Longwood, including a 16–1 win last season and 5–4 victory in 2009. … The Lancers have lost nine consecutive games going back to last season, including a 26–2 Tuesday loss at Virginia.

No. 12 UNC 10, Longwood 0

(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. 8 East CarolinaGreenville4–2
26Sunday6–5 LNo. 8 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. 5 VirginiaHome11–4,
0–1 ACC
11Saturday8–4 LNo. 5 VirginiaHome11–5,
0–2 ACC
11Saturday6–0 WNo. 5 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
28Tuesday4 p.m.No. 19 Coastal CarolinaHomeNone
31Friday6 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN3
1Saturday3 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN3
2Sunday1 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN3
4Tuesday7 p.m.No. 9 South CarolinaCharlotteESPN3
6Thursday6 p.m.Georgia TechAtlantaSECN+
7Friday6 p.m.Georgia TechAtlantaESPN3
8Saturday1 p.m.Georgia TechAtlantaACCN
11Tuesday6 p.m.QueensHomeESPN3
13Thursday7 p.m.No. 23 MiamiHomeACCN
14Friday6 p.m.No. 23 MiamiHomeESPNU
15Saturday2 p.m.No. 23 MiamiHomeESPN3
18Tuesday6 p.m.CharlotteHomeESPN3
21Friday6 p.m.No. 14 Boston CollegeHomeESPN3
22Saturday2 p.m.No. 14 Boston CollegeHomeESPN3
23Sunday1 p.m.No. 14 Boston CollegeHomeESPN3
25Tuesday6 p.m.UNCWHomeESPN3
28Friday7 p.m.Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.ESPN3
29Saturday7 p.m.Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.ACCN
30Sunday1 p.m.Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.ESPN3
2Tuesday6 p.m.CampbellHomeESPN3
3Wednesday5 p.m.No. 8 East CarolinaGreenvilleESPN+
9Tuesday6 p.m.Gardner-WebbHomeESPN3
11Thursday7 p.m.N.C. StateHomeESPN3
12Friday6 p.m.N.C. StateHomeACCN
13Saturday2 p.m.N.C. StateHomeESPN3
16Tuesday7 p.m.Coastal CarolinaConway, S.C.ESPN3
18Thursday6 p.m.ClemsonClemson, S.C.ESPN3
19Friday6 p.m.ClemsonClemson, S.C.ESPN3
20Saturday1 p.m.ClemsonClemson, S.C.ACCN
23–28 Tuesday–
TBAACC ChampionshipDurhamESPN3
TBANCAA Super RegionalsTBA
TBACollege World SeriesOmaha, Neb.
Rankings according to D1Baseball.

Photos courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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