CHAPEL HILL – No. 6 North Carolina swept No. 2 N.C. State in Raleigh for the first time in program history with a 5-4 win at Doak Field on Sunday. The Heels relied on four relief innings from Caden O'Brien and a six-out save from Ben Casparius to capture the win and stay atop the ACC standings.The Heels jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first when the offense loaded the bases with one out. The first run of the inning came on an Ike Freeman pop up to shallow left field, a ball that got deep enough to make the second baseman make an errant throw up the line at home. Michael Busch and N.C. State catcher Jack Conley made contact, but the ball jarred loose and Busch was able to cross the dish.
After Clemente Inclan walked to load the bases again, Kyle Datres was able to score on a pitch that scooted away from the catcher during Cody Roberts' at-bat, giving North Carolina 2-0 lead after the first half inning of play.
N.C. State got a run back in the bottom of the second against starter Tyler Baum, an inning that would see North Carolina make the call to the bullpen early. Leading off the inning, it was Brock Deatherage putting a ball over the wall in left field to cut the Heels lead in half. After Baum hit the next batter, J.T. Jarrett, his third hit batter of the day, coach Mike Fox made the move for Caden O'Brien to enter after just 1 innings from Baum. That marks his shortest start of the season.
FINAL!! HEELS SWEEP NC STATE! For the first time in program history the Tar Heels sweep the Wolfpack in Raleigh. Whew, that was a nail biter at the end, but the Heels hold on. pic.twitter.com/fiDAp07I6M— Carolina Baseball (@DiamondHeels) April 29, 2018
As O'Brien settled down and worked out of the inning without further damage, the Heels would get that run back off the bat of Ike Freeman. With Michael Busch on third after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, Freeman poked a single into left-center, his 30th RBI of the season to put North Carolina up, 3-1.
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O'Brien continued to hold things down on the mound for North Carolina, setting up the offense to do more damage in the top of the fifth. After Datres reached on an error and made his way to third on a hit-and-run single from Brandon Riley, it was Freeman again coming through to advance the lead. He chopped a ground ball to the right side that scored Datres, making it 4-1 Carolina. Just a batter later it was Ben Casparius chopping a pinch-hit RBI single, giving the Heels a 5-1 lead after four and a half innings.
Just a half-inning later, N.C. State quickly cut the lead in half and took the two runs back, courtesy of yet another long home run off the bat of Deatherage. With a runner on first he hit a fastball from O'Brien deep to center, hitting off the batter's eye for his ninth home run of the season. After five full innings, it was 5-3 Heels.
After Rodney Hutchison shut down the N.C. State offense for a pair of innings, the Wolfpack scooted a run across in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch from Ben Casparius. That made it 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. And while N.C. State made things interesting to try to walk things off, the Tar Heels wouldn't be denied this weekend in Raleigh.
Three members of the Wolfpack offense reached via free passes in the game's final frame, setting up Casparius against Stephen Pitarra with the bases loaded and two outs. The pressure couldn't be higher, but Casparius dug deep and induced a fly out to right field, securing Carolina's first sweep of N.C. State since 2006.
The Heels will be back in action on Tuesday when UNC-Asheville comes to Boshamer Stadium for a midweek game in Chapel Hill. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. ET.