March 26, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Junior Thomas Nichols scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on a bases-loaded walk, and No. 3 Georgia Tech (19-2, 6-1 ACC) turned doubles plays in the eighth and the ninth to hold on for a 2-1 win over No. 17 North Carolina (16-7, 2-5 ACC) Friday night at Boshamer Stadium.
“It was a great battle out there tonight, and I am proud of our guys the way they hung in there and came out with the win tonight,” head coach Danny Hall said. “We were very lucky there in the end, as we walked too many guys late in the game, but were fortunate enough to get two double plays late there to help our cause.”
Nichols collected two of Tech’s season-low three hits in the game, including a leadoff double in the seventh off UNC starter Matt Harvey, putting himself in position for the go-ahead run. Junior Cole Leonida drew the two-out bases-loaded walk later in the inning on a 3-1 count to bring home Nichols for the lead.
Nichols scored both runs for the Jackets in the game. It was also the second game this season Tech has won because of a bases loaded walk.
North Carolina loaded the bases with just one out in the ninth, but Tar Heel outfielder Brian Goodwin lined into the glove of second baseman Jacob Esch, who then flipped it to shortstop Derek Dietrich for the a double play at second to end the game. Senior right-hander Andrew Robinson ran into some trouble on the mound after walking the second batter of the inning to load the bases, but was able to get out of the jam for his first save of the year.
“His cleats had mud in them and he was slipping a little bit, so he wasn’t able to locate his fastball,” said Hall of Robinson. “But when it all counted, he got us out of there. I am proud of the way he hung in there. Most players would have folded the tent in that situation, but he hung in there and got us out of it.”
Junior Deck McGuire (4-1) picked up the win for the Jackets after allowing just one run on six hits in seven innings Friday. McGuire tied a season-high in strikeouts win 10, and now has 49 on the season.
It was a pitcher’s duel on the mound all game, as both starters combined for 21 strikeouts on the night. North Carolina’s Harvey (3-1) fanned 11 batters in seven innings of work. The right-hander held Tech to just three hits, but allowed six walks for his first loss of the season.
North Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead with one out in the second. Second baseman Tommy Coyle singled to left field, then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Two batters later, centerfielder Mike Cavasinni brought him in with a single to right field.
Harvey held the Jackets without a hit through four innings pitched, retiring 10 of the first 12 hitters in the game.
Nichols would get the rally going for the Jackets in the fifth, with a one-out single on a dribbler back to Harvey for Tech’s first hit of the game. After a Jeff Rowland single to right field two batters later, junior Derek Dietrich hit a grounder to second that UNC’s Coyle couldn’t manage to hold on to. Nichols scored from second on the play to tie the game at 1-1.
McGuire continued his strong performance into the seventh, allowing just four singles following UNC’s tally in the second. The Richmond, Va. native would strand a runner on third in the seventh, striking out North Carolina’s Goodwin for the fourth time in the game before giving way to the bullpen in the eighth.
The Tar Heels had runners on first and second with just one out in the eighth, but freshman Luke Bard forced UNC pinch-hitter Seth Baldwin to hit into a double play at second base to eliminate the threat.
The series continues Saturday night at 6 p.m., as Brandon Cumpton takes the mound against North Carolina right-hander Colin Bates at Boshamer Stadium.