Heel grab Hofstra in the NCAA opener


Heel grab Hofstra in the NCAA opener

MacHorvath (Photo: Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina)

CHAPEL HILL, NC — North Carolina, No. 10 overall, scored in each of the first five innings to push through two early solo homers and No. 4 regional seed Hofstra in the first game of the Chapel Hill Regional at 15 : 4 to defeat .

The Pride found early success against UNC starter Max Carlson, hitting two solo homers in the first two innings. The Tar Heels always responded with their own solo recordings. Mac Horvath hit his 14th home run in 33 games 409 feet to left centerfield to tie it with one run apiece. Then, while trailing 1-2, Tomas Frick hit his second home run of the season to tie it at two runs apiece.

Horvath got back on the plate at the end of the third inning and started the first pitch, which he saw back over the left midfield fence to give his team a 4-2 lead, and a lead UNC would not give up.

Insurance runs came at the bottom of the 7th inning for UNC when Colby Wilkerson scored a goal with loaded bases, Angel Zarate scored two with a single to right center, and Wilkerson scored on a faulty pickoff attempt at first base. After the dust settled in the seventh inning, the Tar Heels added seven runs to walk away with the game and finished with a three-run home run by Vance Honeycutt.

All nine Tar Heel starters recorded a hit and eight of nine starters scored a run.

Carlson bounced back from the rocky start to take the win (4-2), his third win of the postseason (wins over Clemson and NC State). The two home runs were the only earned runs allowed by the starting right-hander.

UNC used a conglomerate of Gage Gillian, Connor Bovair and Connor Ollio to end the game and hold Hofstra in the final 3.2 innings with two hits and a run to secure the Tar Heel victory. The UNC pitching team knocked out eight Pride hitters.

Horvath leads home run derby

A new record for most home runs in the conference tournament was set in Charlotte for the ACC tournament. The attack continued at Boshamer Stadium.

UNC hit five homers, led by sophomore Mac Horvath, who started his day 2-on-2 with two homers and three RBI in the first three innings. He is the first tar heel with two home runs in an NCAA tournament since Aaron Sabato hit two home runs in Game 3 of the 2019 Chapel Hill Super Regional against Auburn.

Horvath’s closing line: 3-for-4, 4 RBI, 3 runs, 1 stolen base

Hofstra hit three of his four runs from the long ball and the Tar Heels finished with five home runs, the most since they hit five balls over the fence against Liberty in the Regionalliga in 2019. It’s the second time in four games that UNC has hit at least four homers in a game.

Carlson jumps back

The sophomore pitcher needed 44 pitches to get through the first two innings; two innings with two solo home runs by Kevin Bruggeman and Santino Rosso.

It was his third straight start after a four-day hiatus, his last start coming against the Wolfpack in the ACC Championship game. He quickly lost confidence in his fastball and then lost command of his off-speed. But he fought back in the third inning to go 1-2-3 and knocked out three straight batters in the fourth after a leadoff double.

What initially looked like a quick outing for Carlson actually turned out to be a 108-pitch affair for more than 5 innings to give the UNC bullpen more respite.

Honeycutt stays hot

The star freshman added to his impressive run with a triple home run at the bottom of seventh place. In his last 16 games, Honeycutt has 12 homers and 28 RBI with an ACC Tournament MVP award.

He finished Day 2-for-6 with three RBI and one run. Honeycutt is two homers behind a season’s home run record with 22 Dingers a season.

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UNC meets the winner of Georgia Commonwealth (No. 2) and Virginia Commonwealth (No. 3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Brandon Schaeffer will start for the Tar Heels.

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