Top-ranked UNC blisters Duke
CHAPEL HILL — As North Carolina’s baseball players warmed up on the Boshamer Stadium field Sunday, Tar Heels coach Mike Fox made a special point of asking them to look into the stands.
The first pitch had yet to be thrown and the national anthem yet to be played, but the stadium already was filling up with fans who had come to watch the nation’s No. 1 baseball team.
“We have people standing up here to watch them play,” Fox said. “I didn’t want them to take that for granted, because we’ve worked hard to get to this point and get the program to this point where tickets are hard to come by.”
The Tar Heels proceeded to put on a show that left arch-rival Duke in the dust.
UNC bested the Blue Devils 10-1, winning their 14th consecutive game to complete a three-game ACC baseball weekend sweep.
A capacity crowd of 4,255 jammed into Boshamer, the largest gathering for a regular-season game in the facility’s history.
They saw the Tar Heels (39-2, 18-2 ACC) hand Duke its sixth consecutive conference loss, a streak that dents the Blue Devils’ hopes of qualifying for the ACC Tournament.
Eight teams will qualify for the event, and Duke (22-20, 8-13) now is two games behind seventh-place Miami (27-16, 10-11) and one game back of eighth-place Virginia Tech (24-17, 9-12).
The three teams each have nine ACC games remaining before the ACC Tournament is held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 22-26.
“I think if we’re honest with ourselves, yes, our confidence is shaken a little bit,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said. “But the thing about baseball is you don’t have time to dwell on it. We have five games this week. We have to get right back up on the horse and, hopefully, play some good baseball.”
UNC did plenty of that Sunday, as it did in all three games against Duke.
Tar Heels pitcher Hobbs Johnson continued the strong efforts by starters that teammates Kent Emaunel and Benton Moss delivered for UNC in Saturday’s two wins over Duke. Johnson pitched 7.1 innings, allowing six hits and walking three while holding the Blue Devils scoreless.
“(He threw) a lot of first-pitch strikes early on; a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Fox said. “He gets himself in trouble when he gets behind in the count and walks guys out of the stretch.”
Meanwhile, UNC torched Duke’s pitching for 16 hits, including three doubles and two RBIs from first baseman Cody Stubbs. Cleanup batter Brian Holberton had a home run and a double, driving in four runs.
As they did in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Tar Heels took the lead in the first inning and never let Duke catch up.
“When you spot a good team like that, with such a good bullpen, three runs in the first, you are playing catch-up the whole ballgame,” Pollard said. “They are the No.1 team in the country, and they played like it today.”
On Sunday, Holberton had the big hit with a three-run home run in the first off Duke starter Robert Huber. UNC’s first four batters reached base, and Duke appeared to create a break by throwing Chaz Frank out at home on a Colin Moran single.
But Huber fell behind in the count by throwing the first two pitches out of the strike zone. When he came in with the third pitch, Holberton ripped the ball over the right field fence for a 3-0 UNC lead.
Stubbs’ RBI double in the third inning and the Tar Heels turned two singles and a groundout into a fourth-inning run to lead 5-0.
In the sixth, Stubbs’ second RBI double of the game, followed by Michael Russell’s run-scoring single, put the Tar Heels up 7-0 and chased Huber from the game.
Huber allowed nine hits and six runs over his 4.1 innings. He walked two and hit one UNC batter with a pitch.
Heels, Devils team up to fight cancer
After Sunday’s game, both teams gathered along the third base line in front of the UNC dugout for an event that transcended the rivalry.
The players and coaches from UNC and Duke all had their heads shaved to show their support for cancer patients. Sunday’s head shaving culminated the Vs. Cancer event that raised $19,000 for the fight against childhood cancer.
UNC 10, Duke 1
Perez 2b|4|0|0|0| Frank cf|5|0|1|1
Kremer rf|3|0|0|0| Lassiter dh|4|2|2|0
McCabe cf|4|0|1|0| Moran 3b|4|2|2|0
Betts 3b|4|0|1| 0| Holberton rf|4|2|2| 4
Lumpa lf|3|0|2|0| Stubbs 1b|4|2|3|2
Koplove ss|3|0|0|0| Atwood ph/1b|1|0|0|0
La Bruna ph|1|0|0|0| Russell ss|3|1|1|1
Marconcini 1b|3|0|2|0| Raburn ph|1|0|0|0
Phllips ph|0|1|0|0| Campbell ss|0|0|0|0
Perkins dh|3|0|0|0| Zolk 2b|5|0|1|0
D’Alessandro ph|1|0|0|0| Jordan lf|4|1|3|2
Anthes c|3|0|0|0| Roberts c|3|0|1|0
Morris ph|1|0|1|1| Zengel ph|1|0|0|0
Duke|000|000|001 - 1
UNC|301|120|21x - 10
E - Lumpa, M.(4). DP - UNC 1. LOB - Duke 9; UNC 9. 2B - Marconcini(10);
Holberton, B(10); Stubbs, C 3(16). HR - Holberton, B(8). HBP - Lassiter, L.
SB - Russell, M(16).
Win - Johnson, H (2-0). Loss - Huber, R. (5-4). Save - None.
WP - Huber, R. 2(3). HBP - by Huber, R. (Lassiter, L).
Umpires - HP: Ray Gregson 1B: Jack Cox 3B: Randy Dulin
A – 4,255