May 13, 2011
ATLANTA – North Carolina (40-10, 17-8 ACC), ranked as high as No. 9 in the polls, stretched three early runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings, and held off a late rally by No. 9 Georgia Tech (35-15, 18-7 ACC) for a 3-2 series-opening win Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets out-hit the Tar Heels by a 10-9 tally, but fell to the visiting side for the first time in four tries. It was just the sixth loss for Tech when out-hitting the opposition.
Freshman third baseman Colin Moran led the Heels’ at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Moran’s two-out RBI single off of Tech starter Mark Pope in the fifth inning pushed North Carolina’s lead to 3-0, a lead it would never relinquish.
Pope (10-3) was dealt the loss after scattering the three runs on nine hits over six innings. It was just his third loss of the season.
After falling behind early, the Jackets rallied for two runs in the seventh inning on two-out RBI hits by Evan Martin and Jacob Esch to pull within one. Martin singled up the middle before Esch hit his 20th double of the season with a rip to left-center.
The Jackets threatened to tie the game in the eighth, with runners on the corners and just one out. North Carolina reliever Michael Morin, however, would get Tech freshman Zane Evans to groundout into the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and eliminate the run.
Martin came inches away from tying the game with two outs in the ninth inning, but Carolina left fielder Chaz Frank made an incredible catch on the deep fly ball at the top of the wall to end the game.
Morin worked the final 1 2/3 innings for the Tar Heels en route to his sixth save of the season. The save came for UNC starter Patrick Johnson, who earned the win after allowing the two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. Johnson improved to 9-1 on the season.
North Carolina took the early 1-0 lead in the third inning, on a two-out RBI single through the right side by left fielder Chaz Bunting that scored Jacob Stallings from third base.
The Tar Heels added their second run of the game in the fourth inning on Moran’s solo home run to right-center.
The Tech bullpen was solid in relief of Pope, as six different relievers held North Carolina without a hit in the final three innings.
The series continues at 6 p.m. on Saturday.