North Carolina

UNC advances to ACC baseball championship game

North Carolina is headed back to the championship game of the ACC Baseball Tournament for the first time since the Tar Heels won the title in 2013.

And this time, the Tar Heels did it coming from behind.

Miami jumped ahead 3-0 in the first inning, but North Carolina got the bats going after a nearly two-hour rain delay to score three runs in the fourth and sixth innings and added four in the seventh in a 12-4 victory at Louisville Slugger Field.

“We’re excited to be playing for the ACC championship,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “It was a long day at the ballpark but the kids were ready. This is a special group. They don’t panic and just keep playing.”

North Carolina has scored 34 runs in wins over Boston College, North Carolina State and Miami. The Tar Heels pounded out 11 hits against the Hurricanes.

“We’re loose and having fun,” shortstop Logan Warmoth said. “We’re all trying not to do too much. We’re just trying to get on base, not swing for the fences and let the next guy up get the job done.”

The Tar Heels (47-11) will play Florida State in the ACC title game at noon on Sunday. UNC has won seven ACC tournament titles since the league went to a tournament in 1973.

“We’re excited,” Fox said. “This is a great group. ... We have a lot of arms left.”

Miami got hits from the first four batters in its lineup in the top of the first and plated three runs to get things going.

“They had some things fall their way in the first, but we knew it was a long game,” Warmoth said. “We just stayed focused and trusted the approach.”

North Carolina scored one in the bottom of the first and added one in the fourth – just before the weather delay – on a leadoff solo home run by Ashton McGee. The Tar Heels had runners on first and second with no outs when the delay hit.

“Our pitchers put some zeros up after the first inning, and we managed the rain delay well,” Fox said, noting his bullpen was “really solid.”

Once play resumed, Miami had to change pitchers, and Tyler Lynn tied it with a sacrifice fly. After a hit batter and walk, Cody Roberts’ groundout scored Brandon Riley to make it 4-3.

“We felt like we had them on the ropes,” Warmoth said. “And then lightning delay comes – that’s tough. We just tried to stay loose.”

Rodney Hutchison came in for UNC to pitch after the delay and threw three innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits.

While Hutchison (7-4) was dealing, his UNC teammates were hitting. Kyle Datres had a two-out, two-run double in the three-run sixth, while Warmoth had a two-run triple in the four-run seventh.

Both teams added a run in the eighth, as Fox emptied his bench, and the Tar Heels started to celebrate a return trip to the title game.

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