CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No.11 North Carolina pounded out 14 hits and struck out a combined 15 batters to defeat Maine 8-4 Sunday at Boshamer Stadium. The Tar Heels improve to 6-1, while Maine falls to 1-5 on the season.
Colin Bates (2-0) earned the victory throwing five innings and allowing three runs on three hits and striking out a career-best seven batters. Jimmy Messer and Michael Morin each were masterful in relief, combining to strike out eight. Morin earned his second save of his career and the season allowing only one hit in 2.2 innings pitched.
Offensively the Tar Heels were led by Brian Goodwin's 3-for-5 and one RBI performance. Ben Bunting, Levi Michael, Ryan Graepel and Dillon Hazlett all registered two hits in the game. In addition, senior Mike Cavasinni's 1-for-3 performance extended his career-best hit streak to 13 games. Freshman Bryn Renner recorded his first collegiate hit and RBI in the win.
Maine struck first in the opening frame of the game. A walk issued to Tony Patane followed by a well-executed hit and run off the bat of Joey Martin gave the Black Bears runners at first and third. A two-out two-RBI single from Myckie Lugbauer to left field darted the Black Bears in front 2-0.
North Carolina responded in the bottom of the first - scoring one run on two hits. Tommy Coyle ripped a single up the middle followed by a hit-by-pitch off the arm of Levi Michael. A two-out RBI single off the bat of Goodwin scored Coyle and cut the Black Bear lead to one at 2-1.
The Tar Heels came alive in the bottom of the third plating two runs on just one hit. Bunting reached first after getting pelted by pitch in the arm. Bunting advanced to second on an errant throw over to first and then advanced to third on another errant throw from Bazdanes.
Coyle knocked in Bunting with a sacrifice fly to center field. Michael then laced a triple down the left field line and scored on a wild pitch from Bazdanes. Another two-out hit off the bat of Goodwin - a hustling double up the middle. The freshman displayed his lightning fast speed with the hit that went just to the left of second base earning a double.
Bates settled in after the first inning after the Tar Heels gave him one run lead at 3-2. He kept the Black Bear hitters off balance retiring them in order in the fourth.
A wild bottom of the fourth then ensued that featured an ejection and a controversial call reversal resulting in the Tar Heels losing a run. Hazlett reached first on a single to left field. Then Brett Knief showed bunt then slashed into a hit and run, where Hazlett brushed the second baseman on a ball hit up the middle. Hazlett rounded second and eventually went on to score colliding with the catcher - Knief was then thrown out at third.
After the Maine coaches disputed the result, the call was then reversed as Hazlett was called out on runner interference. Knief reached first on a fielder's choice and the Tar Heels lost a run. The Carolina coaches then argued the call reversal culminating in an ejection of one of the members of UNC's coaching staff. Maine wriggled out of the odd inning allowing no runs on one hit.
A solo home run that snuck inside the left field foul pole off the bat of Joe Mercurio then knotted the game at three. Bates then fanned two Black Bear batters to end the inning and his day - allowing three runs on three hits and striking out seven.
The Tar Heels regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth with a RBI double down the left field line off the bat of Graepel scoring Goodwin all the way from first. Cavasinni then bunted for a base hit to put runners at first and third, but a 5-4-3 double play ended the threat.
Messer entered the game in the sixth to strike out the side and allow one hit. Carolina extended their lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the frame on a RBI double down the left field line from the switch-hitting Michael to score Bunting from first.
Messer continued to work into the seventh, but found himself in a jam after a hit and walk. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third. Morin relieved Messer in the seventh, but an RBI groundout cut the Tar Heel lead to 5-4. Morin then ended the inning with a strikeout.
Carolina added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. A Graepel double off the right center field wall followed by a RBI base hit from Hazlett scored the senior and one of the Heels' runs. Bryn Renner then entered to pinch-hit and ripped his first career hit down the left field line to score Graepel. Bunting then tattooed another double down the same line to score pinch runner Seth Baldwin. Carolina extended their lead to 8-4 after the first seven innings.
Morin baffled the Black Bear hitters in top of the eighth, fanning the side on just ten pitches. Morin was terrific in 2.2 innings, translating to five of the eight outs he recorded were via the strikeout.
The Tar Heels will be back in action Tuesday hosting Garner-Webb at 3 p.m., before hosting Michigan for a three-game series next weekend.