North Carolina plated 10 runs – in the first inning – on Friday night and coasted into the ACC Baseball Tournament semifinals.
The Tar Heels have scored 22 runs in its first two games of the tournament and used the huge first inning to whip N.C. State 12-4 in the final pool play game on Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
“Well, we got off to a good start,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “That’s probably an understatement. You don’t expect to have an inning like that. But Brian (Miller) got us going with a home run, and we just squared up a lot of balls and took advantage of a couple mistakes by the end. You don’t expect to have a 10-run-inning.
“This game is crazy sometimes. We’re happy to still be playing.”
North Carolina was the final team to make it into the semifinals after watching No. 1 seed Louisville, No. 3 seed Wake Forest, No. 4 seed Virginia and No. 5 seed Clemson all get eliminated before the semifinal round.
But the upset bug didn’t bite the Tar Heels (46-11).
“We’re playing well right now and out here just having fun,” said left fielder Tyler Lynn, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Added right fielder Brandon Riley: “This is a really cool event to be a part of, so just try out there trying to have fun.”
North Carolina now plays No. 6 seed Miami at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the second semifinal. The game will be played one hour after the completion of the noon game between Duke and Florida State. The title game is set for Sunday at noon.
Miami is on the NCAA bubble and could miss the tournament for the first time in 44 years, so Fox noted “we’ll have our hands full. Teams with a lot to fight for show a lot of pride. They’re playing well right now.”
So is UNC.
And the Tar Heels got off to a rocking start as Miller blasted a ball over the right-field fence to lead off the bottom of the first inning.
The Tar Heels sent 14 men to the plate and had nine hits in the inning. It was a 10-run inning that included a high pop foul with UNC leading 2-0 that was dropped in foul territory by N.C. State pitcher Brian Brown.
With the second chance, Tyler Lynn belted a two-run single and was followed by an Ike Freeman double. Logan Warmoth and Brandon Riley added two-run singles.
The Tar Heels added one in the third and another in the fourth. N.C. State relievers retired the final 15 batters of the game.
On the mound for UNC, ACC Pitcher of the Year J.B. Bukauskas (9-0) gave up four hits and three earned runs in seven innings.
“You know, it’s kind of typical of J.B.,” Fox said. “It looks like sometimes the wheels are going to come off, and then he gets it back together. To say tonight he was effectively, wow, would be a good statement.”