Bad hop turns crazy 10-inning game in BC’s favor, leads to tough UNC loss

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — High-level ACC games can turn on the strangest plays, and one of those led to No. 18 North Carolina’s downfall in a crazy 10-inning battle.

One strike away from getting out of the top of the 10th, Boston College’s Sam McNulty hit a grounder that looked routine. But the ball took a wicked hop off the edge of the grass and went over shortstop Colby Wilkerson’s head.

That scored a pair of runs as the No. 20 Eagles (24–13, 10–9 ACC) pulled out a 9–8 victory over the Tar Heels (25–13, 9–8), the fourth consecutive one-run ACC game for UNC, which is 1–4 in those games. It was BC’s first win in 18 tries at Boshamer Stadium.

Sixteen hits, including three each from the top three batters in the order, weren’t enough.

UNC second baseman Jackson Van De Brake (top photo) said he had never seen a hop like that on that diamond.

“I think it got the edge of a sprinkler hole is what happened,” said Van De Brake, who had RBI hits in the ninth and 10th innings. “I couldn’t really believe that. It’s just as unlucky as it gets, but we’re not going to put it on that. Just the way it goes.”

Carolina coach Scott Forbes said he had seen hops like that before.

“The guy hit it hard, so you’ve got to give credit to him, and it just hit a lip and bounced right over his head,” Forbes said. “Nothing we can really do about it, and then we had opportunities again the next inning.”

You can’t blame the Tar Heels’ defense for that play, but they committed three errors after going error-free in their previous four games. That led to four unearned Boston College runs.

Forbes knows that the margin of error is razor-thin in the league, considering all of the one-run games UNC has played lately.

“We have to find ways to win them,” Forbes said. “If you want to reach your goals, eventually you’ve got to find a way to come out on the other side of those, and I believe our guys will.”

Carolina was potent on offense but hit into a lot of bad luck. BC played errorless baseball and robbed the Tar Heels of some hits with nice plays. None was more significant than when Eagles center fielder Barry Walsh made a terrific play on a Hunter Stokely drive that could have won it in the ninth inning with Van De Brake on second base.

“I thought we had that opportunity in the ninth. We usually win those games but it didn’t go our way,” Forbes said. “I felt like we probably had five to seven balls hit directly on the screws that just went right to them, and that’s just part of baseball.”

Carolina fought back in the bottom of the 10th with Van De Brake’s two-out RBI single up the middle. But with runners at first and third, Vance Honeycutt struck out looking to end the game.

“When you score eight runs, you’ve got to find a way to win,” said Forbes, who bemoaned the three errors.

The first five UNC batters in the six-run first inning got hits, with Honeycutt launching a three-run homer and Osuna a two-run homer, both drives to left field. Honeycutt’s shot went 384 feet and over the netting, and Osuna’s blast went 402 feet.

It was Honeycutt’s 10th home run of the season, but first since April 2 against Notre Dame, a stretch of 35 at-bats.

It was another rough outing for Carolina starter Max Carlson, who has given up at least three runs in six of his last seven starts and has a 6.36 ERA. Carlson struck out two and only gave up three hits, but he walked four in 2⅔ innings, his third outing this season of that length or shorter.

“He just hasn’t pitched like a Friday starter,” Forbes said. “So, we’ll go back to the drawing board and go to work. If we have to make an adjustment to the rotation, we’ll make an adjustment. But I’m not focused on that right now.”

Dalton Pence, who gave up three hits and one run in 2⅓  innings in relief of Carlson, was one of five UNC pitchers to work out of the bullpen.

“I thought our bullpen was good,” Forbes said. “Pence stepped in and bridged the gap. You don’t want to use that many guys on a Friday. And we’ve got to get to where our starters pitch better for us and give us more length.”

BC scored two off Carlson in the first on a double, error and a wild pitch. Carlson escaped further damage by inducing an inning-ending flyout with the bases loaded. Carlson’s night ended after Vince Cimini’s RBI single in BC’s three-run third. Pence gave up a two-run single in that inning.

BC tied it in the fifth inning when Nick Wang lined a double past diving third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi and scored on Cimini’s two-out single.

Junior right-hander Matt Poston pitched three hitless shutout innings, including getting out of an inherited jam of two on with one out in the sixth inning and another after he walked two in the eighth. Poston, who pitched for the seventh consecutive game and ninth in the last 10, tied his season-high with four strikeouts.

The teams traded ninth-inning runs, with Cameron Leary blasting a solo homer to right-center field for Boston College off Kevin Eaise (loser, 2–3). Horvath tied it when he led off with a single, stole his team-high 18th base and scored on Van De Brake’s single up the middle. Pinch hitter Reece Holbrook hit into an inning-ending, bases-loaded double play to send the game to the 10th inning.

McNulty’s bad-hop grounder in the 10th inning came after a Horvath throwing error at third base.

NOTES — Game 2, moved four hours later than originally scheduled to 6 p.m. Saturday, matches two right-handers: UNC’s Connor Bovair (4–1, 3.25 ERA) and BC’s Chris Flynn (6–1, 3.78 ERA). Carolina right-hander Jake Knapp (3–3, 5.45 ERA) starts Sunday’s noon finale but the Eagles haven’t announced a starter. Both games will stream on ESPN3. … Saturday is Zac Gallen bobblehead night. … Carolina has won four of six ACC series. … Honeycutt became the 21st player in the country with double-digit home runs (10) and steals (16), joining Horvath (15 and 18). Lipscomb was the only team with two players on that list entering Friday’s play. … UNC errors were their first since committing three against Queens on April 11. … UNC leads the all-time series with BC 31–4.

No. 20 BC 9, No. 18 UNC 8, 10 inn.

(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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