North Carolina’s impressive run in the ACC Baseball Tournament came to a screeching halt on Sunday at Louisville Slugger Field.
The Tar Heels scored 34 runs in their first three games and led 3-0 after two innings in the championship game against Florida State. But the Seminoles scored one run in the seventh inning and then added five more in the eighth for a 7-3 win in the title game.
“Winning this tournament is a difficult task,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “They deserve all the credit. They got some two-strike base hits and that wins championships. They’ve been playing well and continued it.”
North Carolina managed just seven hits against four Florida State pitchers and two of those hits came in the ninth inning.
The Tar Heels scored all three runs in the second inning.
“We’re going to compete until the final out,” said left fielder Tyler Lynn, who had a solo home run in the second. “This team is resilient. We just stick to the approach and try to get something going. We’re going to compete until someone tells us to stop.”
Fox and Lynn said the long day on Saturday didn’t hurt the Tar Heels. North Carolina’s game against Miami, which started two and a half hours later than expected and because of a rain delay, didn’t end until 11:30 p.m.
The Tar Heels had a short turnaround with the final-game first pitch exactly 12 hours from the time they arrived at their hotel.
“It wasn’t ideal,” Lynn said. “But we were ready to play.”
Added Fox: “I was more tired than they were, but I was not playing. For them it’s like staying up late and going to class next morning.”
Lynn and leadoff hitter Brian Miller both led the offense with two hits apiece. Michael Busch had an RBI and scored a run.
Tyler Baum started the game and allowed one hit and a run in 2 1/3 innings, while Taylor Sugg allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings. Josh Hiatt (4-2) was tagged with the loss after six hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Fox said he was proud of his team but noted the run the Seminoles have been on. Florida State beat No. 4 Louisville three times in the last week and also knocked off Notre Dame and Miami in the tournament.
“This might be a more difficult tournament to win than maybe a regional,” he said. “There are so many really, really good teams in this league. It’s a tough tournament to win and that’s why you see it spread out to a lot of schools.”
The Tar Heels are ranked No. 2 in the polls and also in the RPI and will host an NCAA Regional next weekend. The NCAA will announce on Sunday night the 16 hosts.
North Carolina is likely to be a national seed and would host the next two weekends in Chapel Hill as long as the Tar Heels keep winning.
“We’ll move on, we enjoyed our week here,” Fox said. “We’ve been treated great, but we look forward to next weekend.”