UNC plates six runs in eighth to topple UVa, secure ACC regular-season title
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A six-run eighth inning propelled No. 4 North Carolina (47-7, 21-6 ACC) to its first ACC regular-season championship since 1990 on Friday as the Tar Heels downed No. 7 Virginia (44-9, 21-8 ACC) 8-5.
Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tar Heels were facing an uphill battle as Virginia entered the contest 37-0 when leading after seven innings and had closer Kyle Crockett on the mound.
After a fly out put one out on the board, Brian Holberton hit a ball that short-hopped the shortstop to allow Holberton to reach first base on an error.
Michael Russell then turned on a Crockett offering and sent it into the left-center field gap for an RBI triple as the Tar Heels pulled within two at 5-3.
A hit-by-pitch put runners on the corners for Mike Zolk, who laced a pitch to right-center that one-hopped the wall. Russell walked home to score and Cody Stubbs raced around from first to tie the contest at five before Zolk slid around the tag at third for his first triple of the season.
Parks Jordan worked a full count before drawing a walk to put runners at the corners once again, this time for Chaz Frank.
Frank lined a ball past the third baseman and into right field to push the Tar Heels in front 6-5.
Landon Lassiter sent an offering from reliever Josh Sborz down the right field line to add another run ahead of a Colin Moran RBI fielder's choice.
Freshman closer Trent Thornton came on for the top half of the ninth inning and struck out all three Cavaliers he faced to earn his sixth save of the year.
Sophomore right-hander Chris McCue improved to 6-0 on the year as he kept the Tar Heels in the contest by allowing one run in 2.1 innings of work out of the bullpen.
Carolina fell behind 3-0 after three and a half innings of action. Mike Papi doubled in a run in the third inning against starter Benton Moss and the Cavaliers used a Brandon Downes solo home run and a Kenny Towns RBI single in the fourth.
Zolk came through with his first big hit of the night in the bottom of the fourth when he doubled off the right field wall, scoring Russell and Stubbs.
A solo home run off the bat of Papi opened the fifth inning for Virginia. The Cavaliers used a Reed Gragnani sacrifice fly in the eighth to add to their lead before the comeback by the Tar Heels in the bottom half of the frame.
Russell finished the night a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI. Lassiter contributed three hits and an RBI. Zolk matched a career-high four RBIs in the win for the Tar Heels.