GREENVILLE, N.C. - North Carolina was down to its final out Wednesday night against No. 29 East Carolina in Greenville, N.C. but staged a dramatic comeback in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 win over the Pirates.
Jesse Wierzbicki came through with the clutch hit driving in a pair of runs when he singled to left with two down in the ninth. Carolina will have the next five days off for exams before returning home to take on Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, May 3.
East Carolina took advantage of a Tar Heel miscue in the bottom of the third to jump out to an early 3-0 advantage.
Carolina picked up a pair of quick outs to open the third with an infield pop out and a caught stealing before the top of the order came up for the Pirates. A single up the middle by Trent Whitehead started things off before Jack Reinheimer hit a ball to second base that Tommy Coyle was unable to handle extending the inning.
Zach Wright made the Tar Heels pay for the mistake and lifted a ball into a strong wind that lifted the ball out of the park in center field putting ECU on a 3-0 lead.
The Tar Heels answered right away in the top of the fourth as they pushed across three runs of their own to even things up at 3-3.
A one-out walk to Levi Michael started things off for the Tar Heels before Colin Moran popped out to the shortstop in shallow left field to put two outs on the board.
Jesse Wierzbicki was hit by a pitch to push Michael into scoring position before Chaz Frank tallied his second single of the night pushing a ball into right field scoring Michael on the play.
A wild pitch moved Wierzbicki and Frank up 90 feet for Jacob Stallings. The junior backstop hit a high chopper to Jack Reinheimer at shortstop who fired it to first but the ball was in the dirt skipping past Chase McDonald at first allowing the Tar Heels to even the game at 3-3.
Carolina threatened again in the top of the sixth as Frank reached on a walk and Ben Bunting singled up the middle with two outs. As the Tar Heels announced Greg Holt as the pinch hitter to face the left-handed pitcher ECU went to the bullpen and brought on a right-hander to face Holt who grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
The Pirates opened the bottom half of the sixth with a double off the left field wall against reliever Shane Taylor forcing the Tar Heels to go to the pen for reliever Greg Holt.
ECU would load the bases with a pair of walks and a wild pitch would make the score 4-3 in favor of the Pirates before Holt picked up a ground ball to second base to get out of further trouble.
Carolina was able to get a pair of runners on again in the top of the seventh but the two-out rally was thwarted with a fly ball to center field to end the inning.
Both teams went quietly before the Tar Heels mounted a comeback in the top of the ninth.
Matt Roberts led off with a double down the right field line and moved to third when Parks Jordan dropped down a bunt that he was able to leg out putting runners at the corners with nobody out. A walk to Tommy Coyle loaded the bases for the Tar Heels before Levi Michael and Colin Moran popped out.
Facing the potential final out of the ball game Jesse Wierzbicki worked a favorable 2-1 count before delivering a two-run single to left putting the Tar Heels in front 5-4.
Patrick Johnson earned the win tossing the final two outs of the eighth before Michael Morin notched his third save of the season throwing a scoreless ninth.
Levi Michael reached base safely for the 16th consecutive game as the junior shortstop drew a pair of walks.
ECU will play host to Conference USA opponent Southern Miss in game one of a three game weekend series Friday night at 6pm.
North Carolina will have the weekend off for exams before returning to action Tuesday against Gardner-Webb at 6 p.m.