Sophomore second baseman Kyle Seager's walk-off sacrifice fly in the 11th inning lifted No. 3 North Carolina to a 6-5 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday at Cary's USA Baseball National Training Complex. The Tar Heels (13-3, 4-1 ACC) also got seven shutout innings from their bullpen to secure the series victory from the Hokies (7-10, 0-5 ACC).
After leaving the bases loaded in the ninth and stranding two in the 10th, Carolina took advantage of some Virginia Tech miscues to set up Seager's game-winning RBI opportunity. Sophomore Dustin Ackley drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt by reliever Rhett Ballard, took third on a wild pitch and scored the game-winner on a fly ball to deep left by Seager, who went 2-for-5 with two RBI on the day.
Sophomore right-hander Alex White (3-1) picked up the win with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. He came on for a big strikeout with runners on the corners in the eighth, finished with four strikeouts, walked one and allowed two hits. Right-hander Colin Bates gave up just two hits and struck out two over 3 2/3 shutout innings. Ballard (1-2) walked five and allowed one hit over three innings.
Third baseman Chad Flack also drove in two runs and matched Seager with two hits for the Tar Heels. Ackley beat out an infield single in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, while Seager (12 games), Mark Fleury (eight games) and center fielder Seth Williams (eight games) also kept hitting streaks alive. Right fielder Tim Fedroff went 0-for-5 to snap his streak at nine games.
Virginia Tech's Jose Cueto had a game-high three hits and drove in three runs. Designated hitter Austin Wates added two hits.
Neither starter figured into the decision. UNC lefty Rob Catapano went four-plus innings and gave up five runs, two earned, on five hits and a walk, and Virginia Tech left-hander Sean McDermott went five-plus innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks.
Carolina jumped in front in the first on Tim Federowicz's seventh RBI of the weekend. First baseman Kyle Shelton started the rally with a double down the right field line and scored on two-out single up the middle by Federowicz.
The lead was short-lived as the Hokies came right back with three in the top of the second to grab a two-run cushion. After a pair of UNC errors and a hit batter, Cueto tripled to left center to drive in two runs, and then raced home from third on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Matt Hacker to give the Hokies a 3-1 advantage.
The Tar Heels came back to tie the game with single runs in the second and third innings. In the second, Williams doubled to left center and scored from third on an RBI groundout to shortstop by Gore to bring the Tar Heels within a run. Federowicz then drew a one-out walk in the third and scored all the way from first on a double down the right field line by Seager to tie the game at three.
In the Virginia Tech fourth, Wates singled through the left side and scored form third on a squeeze play when Cueto legged out a bunt single back towards the mound for his third RBI of the day. Cueto then scored all the way from first on a throwing error by Shelton following a Hacker single to shortstop. After Hacker beat Gore?s throw to first, Cueto went to third, and Shelton's throw across the diamond was wild, allowing Cueto to give the Hokies a 5-3 lead.
The Tar Heels tied the game for a second time in the sixth on a two-run single by Flack. Seager led off the inning with his second double of the afternoon. A walk to Williams but two on, and pinch hitter Ben Bunting moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Flack followed with a one-out single through the right side to drive in both runners and tie the game.
The Hokies threatened to regain the lead in the eighth when a pair of singles off Bates put runners on the corners with two outs. Flack stopped an infield single off the bat of third baseman Michael Seaborn to hold the potential go-ahead run at third, and White then came on to strike out Cueto on three pitches to end the inning.
After the Hokies left runners at the corners in the top of the ninth, the Tar Heels had the bases loaded with just one out and a 3-0 count on Federowicz, but the Hokies worked out of the jam to send the game to extra innings. Facing a full count, Federowicz hit a dribbler to third, and Gore was forced out at the plate for the second out. Seager then laced a liner to second that was snagged by Hacker to preserve the tie.
The series concludes at 1:30 p.m. Sunday with a webcast available live and on-demand through ACC Select.