GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Billy Strode tossed six shutout innings and second-seeded Florida State defeated seventh-seeded North Carolina 7-1 Wednesday night in the first game of Pool B at the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship at NewBridge Bank Park.
Strode retired the first 11 batters of the game and FSU scored four times in the fourth to take control of the contest early. Taylore Cherry allowed six runs in 5.1 innings for the Tar Heels, who will next face third-seeded Virginia Friday night at 7.
Florida State (42-14) jumped out in front in the second with a two-out hit from Justin Gonzalez. Jose Brizuela led off the inning with a single and stole second before Cherry walked Ben DeLuzio. The sophomore right-hander got John Sansone to ground into a 5-3 double play and was on the verse of escaping the trouble, but Gonzalez singled through the left side to make it 1-0 FSU.
The Seminoles blew it open in the fourth thanks to more production from the bottom of the order. With two on and one out, FSU executed a double steal, with Brizuela just beating the tag of Colby Barnette at third. Danny De La Calle then doubled down the left field line to plate two to make it 3-0 before an RBI groundout and a single from Casey Smit pushed the gap to 5-0.
Carolina (33-24) had its best chance against Strode in the fifth, when Alex Raburn and Tyler Ramirez reached on consecutive one-out singles. But the FSU lefty got Adrian Chacon to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play - one of three twin-killings turned by the Noles on the night - to end the threat.
Raburn's RBI single off Gage Smith in the seventh scored Lassiter for UNC's lone run of the night, as Smith and Jameis Winston got the final nine outs to give Strode his second win of the season.
The Tar Heels will now have Thursday off before facing No. 2 Virginia Friday evening at 7. Benton Moss is expected to start for Carolina, while the Wahoos open tournament play Thursday morning at 11 against Maryland.
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