No. 6 North Carolina tops ECU 5-4 in Durham to even weekend series

Published: Feb. 24, 2018 at 11:51 PM EST
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Durham, N.C. – The Tar Heels won a thriller at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Saturday night as they took down ECU, 5-4. After taking an early 3-0 lead the Tar Heels gave up a four-run seventh inning to the Pirates before scoring the final two runs of the game secure the win and set up a winner-take-all match Sunday at 1 p.m.

Carolina jumped on the board early Saturday night as a Cody Roberts walk and passed ball put him on second base for Michael Busch who singled to centerfield to score Roberts for the early 1-0 lead. After the first inning, the Tar Heels had already equaled its run (1) and hits totals (2) from Friday night in Greenville in its 2-1 defeat.

After a Kyle Datres double and a Roberts walk with one out in the top of the third, Busch added to his RBI total on the season with a single that brought home Datres as the Heels doubled its lead, 2-0. Carolina tacked on another run after a wild pitch got by the ECU catcher and Roberts easily jogged home for the 3-0 lead. Carolina had a chance to break the game open, but with two outs and the bases loaded Dylan Enwiller lined one right to the first baseman for the third and final out.

ECU came roaring back in the bottom of the fifth to score four runs to take the 4-3 lead. Brady Lloyd started things for the Pirates with a one out double to centerfield before Turner Brown singled to score Lloyd. After walking Alec Burleson to put runners on first and second with two outs, Tyler Baum was replaced by Austin Bergner on the mound for the Heels. Bergner's first pitch was hit over the center field wall for a three-run home run as the Pirates took its first lead of the game, 4-3.

It didn't take long for Carolina to regain the lead as they scored two runs in the next two innings to take a 5-4 lead heading in to the bottom of the seventh inning. In the sixth inning Datres tie the game with one swing as he sent the third pitch of the inning on top of Tobacco Road in left field to make it 4-4. Brandon Martorano almost answered Datres home run with one of his own, but he couldn't clear the blue monster in left as he started the seventh inning off with a double off the wall. Dylan Enwiller laid down a perfect bunt to advance Martorano to third and legged out the throw to give himself a single. Ike Freeman completed the comeback by driving in Martorano from third as he hit in to a double play on the left side giving the Heels the 5-4 lead.

The Pirates threatened in the eighth and ninth innings with runners in scoring position but Josh Hiatt got out of both innings with ground-ball double plays, including the final outs of the games.

Despite leaving 15 runners on base, the Heels still had five cross the plate on 10 hits and conceded no errors in the field. Bergner picked up his second win of the season while Hiatt picked up his first save. Dallas Tessar led the way for the Heels at the plate with three hits in his first start of the season while Datres finished with two hits, two runs scored and one RBI, including his monster home run to tie the game in the sixth inning.

Carolina will face ECU tomorrow for the third and decisive game of the series at Boshamer Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.