March 22, 2014
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Freshman Connor Justus’ RBI single gave Georgia Tech the lead during a two-run top of 13th inning and the Yellow Jackets held off No. 13 North Carolina in the bottom half to beat the Tar Heel, 6-5, in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday in Chapel Hill.
Catcher Mitch Earnest, who threw out three potential UNC base-stealers in the game, provided a two-out RBI single to left in the 13th that proved to be much needed insurance for the Yellow Jackets (14-9, 4-4). The Heel, who won Friday’s game with a walk-off single in the 11th inning, fell to 15-7, 5-3.
Justus, who also delivered a game-winning walk-off single for the Jackets in the series-clincher last weekend versus No. 22 Miami, drove in Matt Gonzalez from second base with a single to left after Gonzalez led off the 13th with a base hit and moved to second on Thomas Smith’s sacrifice bunt.
Tech, which scored two runs in the fifth to pull even, took the lead in the seventh thanks to A.J. Murray’s RBI single. But the hosts forced extra innings for the second straight game and for the third straight time in this series with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
Dusty Isaacs, who was the on the hook for a tough-luck loss in Friday’s affair, was credited with his fourth win (4-3) by tossing the final 1.2 innings for Tech with two hits, one run and one strikeout.
After getting the first out of the 13th, Isaacs yielded a double to Wood Myers and Michael Russell’s RBI single pulled UNC within one. But Russell was gunned at second by left-fielder Gonzalez trying to stretch his single into a double, and Isaacs fanned Skye Bolt for the game’s final out.
Hyde finished the game with two hits, drew three walks and scored three of the Jackets’ six runs. Murray and Smith each had two hits and drove in a pair of runs.
The teams combined for 30 hits (15 each) and left a collective 32 runners on base (18 for Tech). UNC used 10 pitchers in a game that took four hours and 30 minutes to complete. The loss fell to A.J. Bogucki (1-2).
It was the longest game for the Jackets since beating Clemson, 6-5, on a Daniel Palka 13th-inning walk-off home run at Russ Chandler Stadium on April 27, 2012. Tech is now 2-2 in extra-inning games this season and 5-3 in games decided by one run.
Reliever Jonathan Roberts matched his career-high with three scoreless innings for the Jackets, after starter Devin Stanton was solid over five innings and Matthew Gorst allowed just one hit and one run over 3.1 innings of relief.
Roberts dodged bases-loaded jams in both the ninth and 10th innings, and was aided by his classmate Earnest, who gunned down back-to-back Heels trying to swipe second base for first two outs in the 11th.
The finale of the series is set for Saturday night at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill.