By R.L. Bynum
As North Carolina tried to work its way through the one-game player suspensions, the short-handed Tar Heels couldn’t generate enough offense without four big bats missing from the lineup.
The Tar Heels took an early three-run lead, but No. 8 Coastal Carolina quickly took control on its way to an 8–6 victory Tuesday night at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, S.C., to end their five-game win streak.
Out of the lineup for UNC (33–18), likely serving their one-game suspensions coming out of the incident in the May 9 Gardner-Webb victory, were junior second baseman Jackson Van De Brake, sophomore center fielder Vance Honeycutt, junior catcher Tomas Frick and junior third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi.
It was the first game this season without Honeycutt, the third without Van De Brake starting and the fourth without Horvath or Frick starting.
Junior shortstop Colby Wilkerson, usually the nine-hole hitter, batted fifth, with players who are usually reserves filling out the rest of the lineup: redshirt freshman catcher Dylan King, freshman second baseman Austin Hawke, sophomore left fielder Reece Holbrook and freshman center fielder Carter French.
Wilkerson is now the only Tar Heel to start every game.
The Tar Heels needed big hits from players with little experience in a game like this. They got that from King on his RBI double with two outs in UNC’s three-run first inning, in only his sixth career at-bat.
The game’s first three batters — redshirt sophomore right fielder Casey Cook, junior third baseman Mac Horvath and Junior first baseman Hunter Stokely — singled and two scored.
Coastal Carolina (34–17) quickly tied it with two outs in the first on Derek Bender’s RBI single and Nicky Lucky’s two-run homer off UNC starter Connor Bovair (loser, 4–3). Coastal added two runs in the second when Jake Books hit a leadoff home run to right field and a run later scored on Stokely’s fielding error.
Bovair, who got only one out in Thursday’s win over N.C. State, gave up five hits and five runs (four earned) with a walk and a strikeout in 2⅓ innings. He threw 54 pitches and is penciled in to start Saturday’s series finale at Clemson.
Pitching well in relief again for Carolina were sophomore left-hander Dalton Pence and junior right-hander Ben Peterson, with neither giving up a run. Pence struck out three and gave up only one hit in 1⅔ innings, while Peterson struck out two and walked one in one inning.
Junior left-hander Nelson Berkwich’s usual role is to come in to face one left-handed batter. With a lefty-dominated Coastal lineup, Berkwich faced four consecutive left-handed hitters. In his first appearance since April 23, Berkwich left after striking out one, walking one, giving up a double and a giving up a second walk to load the bases. Fifth-year right-hander Kevin Eaise induced his first batter to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Carolina had the same bases-loaded failure in the seventh, with junior designated hitter Eric Grintz hitting into an inning-ending double play before Coastal pulled away on Zack Beach’s three-run homer off Eaise in the seventh inning.
Eaise gave up two hits, three runs and a walk in one inning.
Senior left fielder Max Riemer pulled UNC within three with a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth.
UNC freshman left-hander Kyle Percival, in his first appearance since April 25 and sixth of the season, gave up only one walk while striking out one in 1⅔ innings.
Horvath led off the ninth inning with a triple to right field and scored on Stokely’s ground out.
Coastal left-hander Jack Billings (winner, 2–0) pitched three shutout relief innings, giving up two walks with three strikeouts. Right-hander Teddy Sharkey pitched the final 1⅓ innings, giving up one hit, one run and striking out two, to earn his seventh save.
NOTES — Carolina next crosses South Carolina to play a huge three-game regular-season-ending series against No. 7 Clemson (35–17, 17–10 ACC), which beat USC Upstate 12–2 Tuesday for its eighth consecutive victory. … It will be the first time since 2014 that Carolina, which fell to 9–5 on the road, finishes the regular season with four consecutive road games. … UNC fell to 5–14 against teams currently ranked in the D1 Baseball Top 25. … Horvath extended his career-high hit streak to 11, and Cook extended his on-base streak to 40, the longest by a freshman since 1998. Cook joined Dustin Ackley as the only players in program history to reach base in at least 40 games. Ackley’s program-high streak in 2009 was 59 games. … Someone in the UNC dugout, but not a player or a coach, was ejected by plate umpire Clint Lawson in the bottom of the fifth inning. … Coastal swept the two meetings with UNC this season after also winning 12–7 in Chapel Hill on March 28, but the Tar Heels still lead the all-time series 47–22, including 13–8 in Conway. … The Chanticleers’ second consecutive win over UNC comes after dropping three consecutive games.
No. 8 Coastal Carolina 8, UNC 6
|No. 21 Virginia||19–11||—||44–11||W9|
|No. 11 Miami||18–12||1||37–18||W2|
|No. 16 Duke||16–13||2½||35–19||L2|
|No. 1 Wake Forest||22–7||—||45–9||L1|
|No. 7 Clemson||20–10||2½||39–17||W12|
|No. 22 Boston College||16–14||6½||34–17||W2|
No. 7 Clemson 14, UNC 7
N.C. State 7, Pittsburgh 2
No. 1 Wake Forest 6, Virginia Tech 3
No. 21 Virginia 12, Georgia Tech 5
Notre Dame 5, Boston College 1
No. 16 Duke 5, No. 11 Miami 3
Louisville 7, Florida State 4
No. 7 Clemson 5, UNC 4
Boston College 7, Notre Dame 2
Boston College 8, Notre Dame 4
N.C. State 17, Pittsburgh 8
No. 1 Wake Forest 7, Virginia Tech 5
No. 21 Virginia 10, Georgia Tech 6
Florida State 7, Louisville 4
No. 11 Miami 10, No. 16 Duke 8, 11 innings
No. 21 Virginia 8, Georgia Tech 7
No. 7 Clemson 3, UNC 1
N.C. State 8, Pittsburgh 2
Florida State 6, Louisville 2
Virginia Tech 14, No. 1 Wake Forest 6
No. 11 Miami 10, No. 16 Duke 1
END REGULAR SEASON
ACC tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park
|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 via @CoastalBaseball