Pitcher Gianluca Dalatri shines in UNC's dominating win over Georgia Tech

Never mind the nine-run cushion his team gave him. North Carolina sophomore pitcher Gianluca Dalatri, who pitched in his second game since returning from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 12 weeks, didn't need it.

Dalatri pitched five shutout innings against Georgia Tech on Friday, helping the Tar Heels beat the Yellow Jackets 9-0 in the ACC Baseball Championship at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The win won't affect whether UNC advances in the tournament. Pitt will be the team from UNC's pool in the semifinals after finishing 2-0 in pool play, including a 5-4 win against the Tar Heels (38-18) on Wednesday.

But UNC's dominating victory on Friday will likely bode well in its quest to be a top-eight seed in the NCAA Tournament and host a super regional. The Tar Heels finished the regular season with the best record in the conference. It was ranked No. 8 in the country in RPI as of Friday.

While UNC's batting was impressive on Friday with 10 hits and nine runs, Dalatri was the star. He kept the Yellow Jackets' hitters off-balance all game. Of the 20 batters he faced, he struck out eight and gave up only one walk.

It was only Dalatri's second start since February, when he began experiencing soreness in his right throwing elbow. The immediate fear was that he suffered a UCL tear, which would have required season-ending Tommy John surgery. But an MRI revealed a stress reaction.

In his first start back against Virginia Tech last week, Dalatri pitched four scoreless innings.

UNC coach Mike Fox said he wanted to get his sophomore starting pitcher another start before the NCAA Tournament. So on Friday Dalatri threw 73 pitches, 52 for strikes, for his first win of the season.

Meanwhile, the Tar Heels' offense got going early. The Tar Heels scored two runs in the first inning, and followed it up with five runs in the third inning to go ahead 7-0. In that inning, sophomore catcher Brandon Martorano hit a three-run home run, and senior Zack Gahagan hit a two-run home run over the left field wall.

Georgia Tech threatened to score in the top of the eighth inning. It had runners on second and third with two outs, but UNC freshman relief pitcher Joey Lancellotti struck out Georgia Tech's Colin Hall to end the inning.

It was UNC's fourth victory over Georgia Tech this season. The Tar Heels swept the series earlier in the year.

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Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander