Cherry leads North Carolina to sixth ACC championship in first career start
DURHAM, N.C. -- Skye Bolt drove in two runs and North Carolina beat Virginia Tech 4-1 on Sunday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Taylore Cherry worked five solid innings in his first career start to help the top-seeded Tar Heels (52-8) earn their sixth ACC tournament title but just their second since 1990.
North Carolina claimed its 19th consecutive victory against the Hokies (38-20) and denied them their first conference title since they won the Atlantic-10 tournament in 2000.
The Tar Heels finished up with an exhausting 4-0 record this week in Durham, and the middle two wins lasted a combined 32 innings.
They needed 14 innings to beat Clemson on Friday night and 18 to defeat rival NC State in a game that ended just before 2 a.m. Sunday -- roughly 11 hours before the title game.
And while the rest of the Tar Heels may not have been fresh, Cherry (1-0) sure was.
The 6-foot-8, 270-pound freshman pitched just 3 1-3 innings all season and never worked more than one inning in any of his five previous appearances.
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But he gave up five hits to the tournament's hottest-hitting team, leaving after giving up a leadoff double to Tyler Horan in the sixth. The Hokies entered hitting .310 as a team while going 3-0 in their four-team pool.
The Hokies loaded the bases in both the fifth and sixth innings but got only one run out of it: Horan scored on Chad Morgan's double-play groundout off freshman reliever Trevor Kelley in the sixth to pull Virginia Tech to 2-1.
That was the first of 11 consecutive batters Kelley retired while earning his second save.
All four of North Carolina's runs came as a result of four Virginia Tech errors.
Landon Lassiter scored in the first when second baseman Alex Perez couldn't handle Bolt's sharp grounder off Eddie Campbell (2-4).
Two innings later, the Tar Heels had runners at the corners with one out when Bolt grounded to third, but Brendon Hayden's throw to second pulled Perez off the bag and allowed Lassiter to score and make it 2-0.
The Tar Heels added two insurance runs in the eighth. Lassiter -- who reached on a throwing error by Hayden -- came around to score when relief pitcher Joe Mantiply fielded Bolt's sacrifice bunt and threw it past Hayden and down the third-base line to push it to 3-1.
Brian Holberton's sacrifice fly three batters later brought home Bolt to make it a three-run game.