No. 2 North Carolina held Old Dominion scoreless through seven innings but allowed seven unearned runs over the final three frames in an 8-6, 10-inning loss Tuesday in the home opener at Cary's USA Baseball National Training Complex. First baseman Bryan Cipolla went 3-for-6 with six RBI, as the Monarchs (2-1) handed the Tar Heels (3-1) their first loss in a home opener since 1993.
Cipolla's third hit of the night, a three-run double in the 10th inning, proved to be the difference. He also hit a game-tying solo home run in the ninth and a two-run single in the Monarchs' four-run eighth, which also featured three of the Tar Heels four errors. Center fielder Jimmy Miles also had two hits and scored two runs for ODU.
For the Tar Heels, freshman left fielder Ben Bunting went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in his first career start. Senior Chad Flack and sophomore Tim Fedroff, who had his second homer of the season, each added two hits on the night.
Reliever Kyle Hald, who allowed one run on four hits over three innings, earned his first win of the season for ODU. Tim Federowicz, who started the game behind the plate and came on to pitch in the 10th, suffered the loss. He allowed three unearned runs and struck out four over 1 1/3 innings.
After the teams combined for just five hits through five innings, the Tar Heels scratched out a run in the sixth. Bunting singled to left and stole second to start the rally. Seth Williams then drew a walk, and two batters later ODU third baseman Jake McAloose misplayed a Flack grounder that allowed Bunting to cross the plate and give Carolina a 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels added to their lead in the seventh on Fedroff's second homer in as many games. Shortstop Ryan Graepel drew a one-out walk, and Fedroff followed with a two-run blast to right on a 1-0 pitch from ODU reliever Cory Toth for a three-run cushion.
The Monarchs grabbed the lead in the eighth with the help of three Tar Heel errors and a two-run single by Cipolla. After a leadoff walk, Graepel misplayed back-to-back potential double play grounders to short to load the bases for Cipolla, who singled to right to trim the lead to 3-2. After an intentional walk to David Burns, McAloose and Chris Keenan coaxed bases-loaded walks out of UNC rookie reliever Nate Striz to give Old Dominion a 4-3 lead.
Trailing by a run in the eighth, Carolina scored twice on Zeke Blanton's go-ahead double. Flack started the rally with a leadoff infield single and Federowicz walked to put two on for Blanton, who doubled into the right field corner for his first career base hit and a 5-4 UNC lead. Flack scored easily on the play, but Federowicz scored all the way from first when ODU right fielder Anthony Shawler bobbled the ball when he ran into the fence in foul territory.
The Monarchs bounced back in the top of the ninth on a solo home run to right by Cipolla off Striz. ODU put two more on base before Federowicz came on to strike out McAloose and send the tied game to the bottom of the ninth. The Tar Heels put two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth but Hald got Flack to hit into a fielder's choice and induced a foul out by Federowicz to end the inning.
In the top of the 10th, Gerard Hall started the two-out rally with a single. A walk put two on and Max Most struck out but reached on a passed ball to load the bases before Cipolla cleared them with a double that dropped down the left field line when Kendric Burney slipped on the wet turf.
The Tar Heels loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning and Fedroff scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 8-6. But Hald struck out Williams to end the game.
Long before the late-inning drama, Carolina rookie Matt Harvey went 4 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts against just two walks and three hits. He allowed a leadoff triple to Miles but bounced back to strike out two of the next three batters to keep the Monarchs off the board. ODU starter Ryan Bergh after allowed just one unearned run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings.
The Tar Heels are back in action beginning Thursday at Winthrop's Coca-Cola Classic. The Tar Heels will face the host Eagles, St. John's and Kent State in the four-day event.