CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Freshman left-hander Kent Emanuel withstood the test from No. 1 Virginia (45-8, 22-7 ACC) Friday night and No. 13 North Carolina (43-12, 19-10 ACC) picked up a pair of eighth-inning runs to claim a 2-1 victory against the Cavaliers. UNC’s two and three hitters, Levi Michael and Colin Moran, each drove in a run in the go-ahead eighth inning. The Cavaliers drop a series for the first time all season and the Tar Heels will look for the sweep on Saturday.
Virginia starter Danny Hultzen, a likely first round draft pick in next month’s MLB Draft, was in complete control early setting the side down in order through the first four innings. Hultzen struck out at least two batters in each of the first four frames.
The Tar Heels eventually got to Hultzen in the fifth when Tommy Coyle took a pitch the opposite way for a single to break up the perfect game. Coyle would not advance past first base but the single got things going for the Tar Heels.
Carolina put a pair of runners on in the sixth and moved the lead off man to third in the seventh but were unable to push a run across in either inning.
Senior Ben Bunting opened the bottom of the eighth with a lead off single through the right side and moved up 90 feet when pinch hitter Parks Jordan dropped down a picture perfect sacrifice bunt.
Chaz Frank turned in perhaps the at bat of the night as he battled Hultzen to a full count before drawing a walk. During Frank’s at bat Hultzen was charged with a wild pitch allowing Bunting to move to third and eventually putting runners at the corners for Levi Michael.
After watching the first pitch miss for a ball, Michael lined the next offering to center field and in front of a diving Kenny Swab tying the game at 1-1.
The ACC’s RBI leader, Colin Moran, strolled to the plate next and battled to a 2-2 count before lifting a pitch to right field, just deep enough to plate Frank from third and give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
Michael Morin would come on for the ninth and picked up a fly out and a strikeout swinging before facing John Barr. The Virginia left fielder lifted a ball behind first base that Tommy Coyle was unable to track down allowing Barr to reach second on a double.
Morin used his defense for the final out as John Hicks rifled a ball directly at third baseman Colin Moran who deflected the ball off of his chest and then fired to first for the third and final out as Jesse Wierzbicki scooped the throw to complete the victory.
Freshman Kent Emanuel dueled Hultzen for the first six innings allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out seven batters. Emanuel found himself in a bit of trouble in the second inning when Swab opened the frame with a double to left center.
The Cavaliers played small ball from that point moving Swab to third on a sacrifice bunt and eventually scoring the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly from Reed Gragnani.
Emanuel had to work out of a few jams Friday night as his defense committed three errors behind him but the freshman was able to hold the ACC’s third-best hitting squad to just one run on the night.
Carolina’s pitchers have held Virginia, ranked ninth in the country in scoring, to just one run over 18 innings of work through the opening two games of the series.
Fellow freshman Andrew Smith delivered an inning and a third of scoreless baseball to bridge the gap to the eighth before R.C. Orlan came on to pick up the final two outs of the inning and eventually earn the win, the first of his career.
The series loss for the Cavaliers is their first of the season and Carolina will look for its fifth ACC series sweep of the year on Saturday when right-hander Chris Munnelly will square off against Virginia’s Will Roberts with first pitch set for 2 p.m.