Heels walk away with win over Pirates
CHAPEL HILL — Chaz Frank delivered an RBI single past the glove of a diving Jack Reinheimer in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday night to give No. 10 North Carolina (30-13) a 1-0 victory over No. 27 East Carolina (27-14-1) at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill.
After redshirt sophomore Tanner Merritt retired the first two batters of the decisive frame, he issued a walk to Tar Heel third baseman Mike Zolk. Parks Jordan followed with a single through the right side on a hit-and-run play, advancing Zolk to third. Frank fought off a pair of 2-2 offerings from Merritt before sending the game-winning single through the middle of the East Carolina infield. The base knock was Frank’s third of the night.
Michael Morin (5-3) picked up the win in relief for the Tar Heels by allowing three hits and striking out three in 1 2/3 scoreless stanzas.
Merritt (2-4) suffered the loss for ECU as he gave up one run on two hits in 1 2/3 frames.
The Pirates squandered opportunities to break a scoreless tie in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
Reinheimer singled to left center to lead off the eighth and took second on Philip Clark’s sacrifice bunt. Kent Emanuel got Chase McDonald to ground out to the right side, which moved Reinheimer to third with two outs before Ben Fultz grounded out to second, ending the threat.
In the ninth, Younger collected an infield single to begin the frame. Emanuel struck out Drew Reynolds before being lifted for the right-handed Morin, who promptly struck out Corey Thompson. But ECU’s inning was kept alive when John Wooten drew a two-out walk, putting runners at first and second. Zach Wright followed by hitting a high bouncing grounder over the pitcher’s mound that resulted in an infield single. Michael Russell’s throw to first was not in time to retire Wright at first, but Tar Heel first baseman Cody Stubbs alertly threw home to nail Younger, who tried to score all the way from second on the play.
The Pirates also put runners on the corners in the 10th, as Clark roped a single up the middle and later advanced to third on Fultz’ base knock to right. Morin retired Younger on a pop-up to shortstop to set up the Tar Heels’ extra-inning heroics.
The one-run defeat overshadowed another brilliant effort by freshman right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who held UNC to five hits in seven scoreless innings. The Latham, N.Y., native walked one and struck out five while matching zero’s with Emanuel. Hoffman pitched out of trouble early in the contest as the Tar Heels left a runner in scoring position in four of the first five innings.
Emanuel allowed just four hits (all singles) in 8 1/3 innings and struck out seven.
Tyler Joyner relieved Hoffman and retired all three batters he faced in the eighth stanza. Hoffman, Joyner and Merritt combined to hold the Tar Heels hitless from the fifth inning (one out) until Parks Jordan’s single with two outs in the 10th.
Corey Thompson was the only Pirate to record a multi-hit performance as the senior third baseman notched two singles, accounting for half of the club’s four knocks against Emanuel.
Frank finished the contest with a game-high three hits and the contests lone RBI. Jordan went 2-for-4, which included a double in the fifth.
The Pirates have not won in Chapel Hill since a 7-5 victory on April 27, 1994. Wednesday night’s loss marks the 14th consecutive loss for ECU in road games against the Tar Heels.
East Carolina returns to the diamond Friday night for a Conference USA series against Tulane. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EST) at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.