Baseball drops two of three versus UNC, tops Auburn

The No. 21 Jackets continued their ACC home slate over the past weekend with a Friday night game and a Saturday doubleheader against No. 18 North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who were right behind Tech in the ACC Coastal standings, took two of the three games, 5-3 and 5-1, with a 6-5 Jackets’ victory sandwiched in the middle.

The losses dropped Tech out of the national rankings and into a three-way tie at 5-4 for second place in the Coastal division, along with UNC and Virginia Tech, just one game behind first-place Miami. The team followed the series with a 4-1 win against Auburn.

The Tar Heels drew first blood in Friday’s game, bringing home three runs in the top of the third due in part to back-to-back doubles off of Tech starter Jonathan King. Tech made a dent in the fifth, when Wade Bailey scored off of a Connor Justus single, and tied the game in the eighth when Kel Johnson hit his team-leading seventh home run to right field.

However, UNC was quick to respond, as catcher Korey Dunbar knocked a two run homer over the center field fence to reclaim the lead. The Jackets then went down in order in the bottom of the night, netting the Tar Heels a 5-3 victory. King threw over 100 pitches in seven full innings of work, giving up just seven hits to 29 batters.

After trailing 5-0, the Jackets took a 6-5 walk off victory in the early game on Saturday. A ground rule double brought in the Tar Heels’ first run in the second in-Base from page 1

ning, and a two out grand slam by third baseman Alex Raburn in the fourth put Tech in a big hole.

The Jackets gained momentum in the sixth when RBI singles by Bailey and Ryan Peurifoy brought UNC’s lead down to just two. Peurifoy delivered again in the eighth inning with a triple that brought home Justus, immediately followed by a Daniel Spingola double to score Peurifoy and tie the game.

Then in the ninth, Thomas Smith became the Jackets’ hero as he singled down the left field line to drive home Johnson and clinch the victory.

After the Tar Heels’ grand slam, starting pitcher Brandon Gold and three Tech relief pitchers (Patrick Wiseman, Devin Stanton and Zac Ryan) combined to throw a no-hitter over the game’s final five innings. UNC’s first run snapped a 23-game scoreless innings streak for Gold, who surrendered five earned runs in the game.

Scoring began early in Saturday’s second game as the teams traded runs in the first, and UNC added one in the second to take a 2-1 lead. The Tar Heels would add to that advantage in the sixth and seventh innings, earning the 5-1 win. The Jackets, struggling to sustain any offensive momentum, did not have anyone reach base over the game’s final four innings.

After the game, head coach Danny Hall shared his thoughts on the series, courtesy of

“They out-pitched us,” Hall said. “They have some very good pitchers, and at the end of the day, we were probably fortunate to win one of the games. We played hard and we took advantage of an opportunity to win the first game, and Thomas Smith had a huge hit to win it.

“Second game today we just made it too easy for them to score, and we struggled with runners in scoring position. We just ran out of gas. We did a lot of nice things to get back in the game [on Friday] and then had to expend a lot of energy to get back in the first game today after being
down 5-0.”

The game against Auburn began as a pitcher’s duel between Stanton and the Tigers’ Rocky McCord. Auburn got on the board first in the fourth inning, but Tech responded an inning later with an RBI double by Arden Pabst. Matt Gonzalez crossed home to add an insurance run for the Jackets in the sixth, and two more runs in the bottom of the eighth sealed the deal. Gonzalez also had a stellar defensive play in left field, throwing out Auburn’s Blake Logan at home to end the sixth inning and keep the game tied.

Spingola extended his hitting streak to a career high 12 games with a third inning single and will carry that streak into the weekend.

The team is back in action at Louisville this weekend as they take on the Cardinals in a three game series. The team will then return to Georgia for two games, playing the Bulldogs in Athens on Tuesday and Georgia State on Wednesday.