GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tyler Ramirez wanted to talk about the adversity the North Carolina baseball team faced all season, but the word “disappointing” kept coming out of his mouth.
“I think we did some good thing and some bad things,” Ramirez said. “The overall outcome is disappointing. It’s very disappointing how it ended today.”
Resuming an elimination game that started at 1 p.m. Sunday, Long Beach State added seven runs in the final three innings to eliminate North Carolina, 12-5. The damage primarily came from the bats of Ino Patron (3-for-3, HR, 5 RBIs) and Michael Hill (4-for-5, HR, 3 RBIs) as UNC pitchers Spencer Trayner and Benton Moss could not hold the fort.
The game resumed with the Tar Heels trailing 5-4 and Long Beach State at bat with runners on first and second and one out, and right away Long Beach State put Trayner on his heels with a double steal that forced him to intentionally walk Richard Prigatano to load the bases.
Hill ripped a 1-2 splitter to right field that scored two runs and gave Long Beach State a 7-4 lead.
“We thought they might run in that situation and usually Spencer is pretty quick to the plate,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “They executed it very well, but still we had the situation we wanted with the bases loaded and one out, but their guy made a nice swing on a tough 1-2 pitch.”
The Tar Heels threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Ramirez hit an RBI double down the right field line scoring Alex Raburn, but Adam Pate struck out with two runners on to end the inning.
“I thought we battled and played hard until the end, but Long Beach State is a great team and they deserve the credit,” Fox said. “I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there this weekend.”
Long Beach State sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs in the ninth. Garrett Hampson’s two-run single off Moss made it 11-5. The Tar Heels went in order in the bottom of the ninth, ending its season at 35-27.
“We came out (Sunday) playing pretty good ball and we seemed to match whatever they were doing,” UNC’s Skye Bolt said. “We needed to bring a whole new level of focus today because it was a condensed game. We didn’t have nine innings to work with, just three or four. We didn’t execute as well today.”
Fox said he feels good about next year with several young players returning but admittedly felt emotional about the seniors he would have to say goodbye to.
“I hugged Parks Jordan; it’s tough to say goodbye to him and Tommy Zengel, the guys you’ve spent so much time with and now it’s all over,” Fox said. “You want a better result for them in their final game. I wanted them to end their careers on a high note and playing the best game but it doesn’t happen that way very often.”