No. 8 Diamond Heels claim ACC championship with 9-5 win over NC State
North Carolina’s No. 8 baseball team (38-19, 15-15 ACC) defeated the NC State Wolfpack (36-21, 14-15 ACC), 9-5, for the ACC championship on Sunday.
In the top of the first inning, NC State came out strong with their first inning on an RBI single from redshirt junior Josh Hood. Even with two players remaining on base, sophomore pitcher Max Carlson defended from the mound, forcing a double play to end any further Wolfpack scoring in that frame.
To start the bottom of the first inning for the Tar Heels, freshman Vance Honeycutt homered right out of the park. That bombshell earned North Carolina two points to give the Tar Heels a one-point lead.
After a scoreless second inning for NC State, the floodgates finally opened for UNC. With bases loaded, redshirt junior outfielder Angel Zarate came on with a single down the middle, bringing in two more runs, making it 4-1.
Junior shortstop Danny Serretti was next at bat, serving a brace and adding another run to the board for North Carolina.
With his second two-home run game of the ACC tournament, Honeycutt once again let the ball fly out of left field for a three-run homer, making it 8-1.
Extending the Diamond Heels’ lead even further, Serretti was able to advance on crazy ground in the fourth inning as second baseman Mac Horvath scampered to home plate.
In an attempt to fight back, a Wolfpack brace in the top of the sixth inning took their run tally to three.
The score remained at 9-3 until the start of the ninth inning, when a single and double earned NC State two more runs. Those runs resulted in a change in pitching, as UNC replaced sophomore Davis Palermo just in time to face Tommy White of the Wolfpack.
As White hit a grounder that Serretti converted to second base out, the Tar Heels were able to secure the final out needed to secure the conference title with a 9-5 win.
Who stood out?
It took a team effort for the Tar Heels to get this far in their ACC Championship chase, but in Sunday’s game, Honeycutt particularly stands out for his accomplishments.
His early home runs lit the spark for UNC, and he became the first player in North Carolina baseball history to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season, as well as the first freshman in Division I to have a 20-20 season since 2011.
When was it decided?
Things looked bleak when the Wolfpack took the lead in the first inning, but the six-run second inning is what gave UNC the upper hand to secure the win and the Diamond Heels conference title.
Why is it important?
The victory not only marks the Diamond Heels’ eighth ACC championship title in program history, but also the team’s 15th victory in the last 17 games.
With that ACC title, UNC will likely host NCAA regionals and have a higher seed for national competition starting June 3.
When do they play next?
On Monday, May 30, the field of 64 teams that will compete in the NCAA College Baseball Championship will be announced, and regional competition will begin on June 3.