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Comeback Falls Short in Game 1 at UNC

by David Villavicencio

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Miami brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth, but its comeback bid fell a few feet short in Game 1 of a doubleheader at North Carolina.

Alex Toral’s deep fly ball was caught at the right field wall inside Boshamer Stadium, as Caleb Roberts’ glove secured a 4-2 win in the opening game of this weekend’s series.

The Hurricanes (21-12, 13-11 ACC) entered the top of the ninth chasing three runs, but made a valiant push against the hometown Heels. Jordan Lala led off the ninth with a walk and Anthony Vilar followed with a free pass to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs.

North Carolina (19-16, 13-12 ACC) lifted closer Caden O’Brien in favor of right-hander Gage Gillian and the new reliever retired Yohandy Morales and Adrian Del Castillo to swing momentum back toward UNC.

But Christian Del Castillo singled home Lala to make it 4-2 and put runners at the corners for Toral. The powerful first baseman put a charge into a 1-0 pitch from Gilliam, but Roberts snared it at the wall to end the comeback effort.

Miami had the momentum late, but UNC scored four runs over the first five innings to take a 4-0 lead.

The Tar Heels got going early against Miami starter Alejandro Rosario. Designated hitter Angel Zarate started things off with a one-out double and scored on an RBI single by Justice Thompson. But the true freshman pitcher got an inning-ending double play to limit UNC to just one run in the first.

Two innings later, Thompson had a two-out RBI double to right that doubled the Carolina lead and a Dallas Tessar leadoff homer in the bottom of the fourth made it 3-0 in favor of the Tar Heels. Tessar continued swinging a hot bat in the fifth, doubling home Brent Centracchio to make it 4-0.

Miami finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh, as Dominic Pitelli opened the inning with a base hit off UNC starter Austin Love. Pitelli advanced to second on a ground out and Love was lifted in favor of O’Brien. A wild pitch allowed Pitelli to move up to third, which allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly by Lala that ended the Tar Heels’ shutout bid.

The Hurricanes loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Gabe Rivera grounded out to third and UNC pitched out of the jam unscathed.