GREENVILLE — Down by one with the bases loaded and two outs, North Carolina sent cleanup hitter Skye Bolt to the plate Tuesday looking for that clutch hit that had eluded the Tar Heels for the better part of nine innings against East Carolina. Once again it could not be found.
Thats just the kind of night it was for UNC, which stranded 11 men on base and had a Korey Dunbar home run taken away by a leaping Ian Townsend during its 3-2 loss to the Pirates in front of a season-high 4,307 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
North Carolina (23-18) entered the bottom of the ninth down 3-1 but cut the deficit by one when Wood Myers drilled a one-out RBI single up the middle to score pinch-hitter Zach Daly, who reached on an error.
With the bases loaded, East Carolina ace reliever Ryan Williams buckled down and got Tyler Ramirez to fly out to shallow center before fanning Bolt.
The inning was symbolic of the Tar Heels Tuesday effort.
The biggest difference for us was the first five innings; we left nine or 10 runners out there, North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. Everybodys going to point to the last inning, but sometimes you put yourself in position to win games early in the game, but we just couldnt get a hit with runners in scoring position.
Williams pitched 4 1/3 innings out of the pen to pick up his Div. I-leading 10th win and improve to 10-2 on the season. With the win, the Pirates (25-17) snapped a six-game losing streak to UNC dating back to 2009.
ECU starter Reid Lovesurrendered one earned run in 4 2/3 innings.
The Tar Heels fell behind 1-0 in the third when Drew Reynolds scored from third on a wild pitch by starter Taylore Cherry, who on the previous at-bat bare-handed a Townsend chopper up the middle.
The Tar Heels tied it in the fifth with Landon Lassiters solo home run to left off of Love but could not build on the momentum.
North Carolina received a solid effort Cherry, who allowed two earned runs and scattered seven hits in 4 2/3 innings to get the loss.
Trevor Kelly followed Cherry and yielded one run in three innings, while Zach Rice did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning.
I thought we pitched well enough to win, Fox said. Trevor Kelly did a nice job and Taylore did a nice job. We made them swing. You have to give East Carolina credit.