CHAPEL HILL — With All-America third baseman and team leading hitter Colin Moran watching from the North Carolina bench with a broken right hand, the Tar Heels have to find offensive production from other sources.
Fifth-ranked North Carolina found it with two big swings from Tommy Coyle and Jacob Stallings on Monday night, the pair homering and combining to drive in six runs as the Tar Heels held off N.C. State 7-4 at Boshamer Stadium.
After losing the opener of the three-game series, when Moran (a .389 hitter) broke his hand late in a 3-1 loss to No. 9 N.C. State (16-6, 6-3 ACC), the Tar Heels (19-5, 7-2) took the series with two straight victories.
Coyle, who drove in the winning run in bottom of the ninth Sunday to lift North Carolina to a 4-3 victory, again came up with a big hit – belting a two-out grand slam against Wolfpack starter Logan Jernigan (3-1) in the second inning to give the Tar Heels a 5-1 lead. After the Wolfpack clawed back within 5-4, Stallings hit a towering homer over the left-field wall in the seventh inning to make it 7-4.
“We have to have some other guys step up,” Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said. “I really thought we were fortunate to win. You look up on the linescore and you usually don’t win when you only get five hits and make three errors.”
Moran, a first-team All-America and the national freshman of the year last season, will have surgery on his right hand today and is expected to be out for three to four weeks. He broke the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones in his hand when he took out his frustrations late in Saturday’s series opener by punching a door in the dugout area.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” said Stallings, a senior catcher. “Losing our best player and coming back and beating our rival two times. That says a lot about the character of our guys.”
Coyle’s second home run of the season just cleared the fence, giving the Tar Heels a working lead.
“I just kind of got lucky, guessed fastball and was looking for that,” Coyle said. “I just dropped the barrel and got a little elevation on it and it barely got out.”
While the two homers made the most noise for the Tar Heels, the bullpen turned in its second straight outstanding game. Relievers R.C. Orlan, Chris McCue and Michael Morin allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) in 62/3 innings.
For the Wolfpack, reliever Anthony Tzamtzis pitched 52/3 strong innings. He came on in the third inning and allowed two base runners before giving up a two-out single and Stallings’ homer in the seventh.