For the first time since 2012, the Chapel Hill Tigers have swept the season series from the Orange Panthers, and have made the Big 8 Conference baseball race all the more interesting.
The Tigers pounded out six runs in the first two innings, then held off a late Orange rally to win 6-5 at Panther Field on Wednesday night. Chapel Hill (13-4, 5-3) racked up 12 hits in winning its fifth straight conference game.
Chapel Hill sent nine batters to the plate during a four-run first inning. Ryan Lonegan drove in Tyler Tachman with a single to left field, followed by another RBI single from junior Anthony Castellano, which plated Garrett Liebe. First baseman Adam Guskiewicz grooved a two-run single to centerfield to score Lonegan and Castellano.
Orange (8-9, 4-2) battled back with three runs in the bottom of the first. After centerfielder Jaydin Poteat scored off a single from Jason Slaughter, Dalton Brown hit a bases-loaded liner to left to send in Caige Clayton and Ryan Puckett.
Chapel Hill scored its final two runs in the second inning, which proved to be enough. Following a leadoff walk from Tachman, Liebe singled to left. After a sacrifice bunt by Colin Liebe, Lonegan had another RBI single that scored Tachman. Liebe scored after Castellano lined a base hit to left, putting CHHS ahead 6-3. That ended the night for Orange starter Will White.
In only his second pitching appearance of the year, Orange freshman Cooper Porter worked five shutout innings in relief, yielding just three hits.
In the fifth, Poteat scored off a sacrifice fly from Slaughter. Orange narrowed their deficit to 6-5 when Cody Evans scored off a bases-loaded walk drawn by Poteat. Slaughter led off the seventh with a single, but was stranded at second when Eric Nichols deep fly ball to center was chased down by Tachman for the final out.