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Terps Still Set For ACC Championship Game On Sunday
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – In a game of big innings, North Carolina saved the biggest for the finish.
The seventh-seeded Tar Heels scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat sixth-seeded Maryland by a 13-7 score in the second game of Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship play on Saturday at NewBridge Bank Park.
“It was a big win for us,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “A lot of guys contributed throughout the lineup, which was good to see. I will go ahead and answer the question: I have no idea what this means for Monday (and NCAA Tournament selections). I'm not a politician. We've done what we've done and we'll just wait and see what our fate is on Monday.”
While UNC (34-25) hopes to have improved its chances of landing an NCAA postseason berth for the 13th consecutive year with the win, the loss was hardly devastating for the Terrapins. Maryland (36-20) took the field on Saturday knowing it had already clinched a spot in Sunday’s ACC title game against ninth-seeded Georgia Tech (1:04 p.m., ESPN2).
The Terps will be seeking their first ACC Baseball Championship title since the event began in 1973. They are playing in the finals for only the second time and first since finishing runner-up to Clemson in 1976. Maryland won three ACC baseball titles before the conference went to a tournament format to determine its champion, finishing atop the standings in 1965, 1970 and 1971.
“Even though the result wasn't what we were looking for, I feel like we were absolutely prepared to go into tomorrow,” Maryland coach John Szefc said.
Saturday’s roller-coaster game saw UNC build a 7-2 lead with the help of a four-run fifth inning. Maryland tied the score with a five-run seventh inning before the Tar Heels countered with their decisive six-spot in the bottom of the eighth.
UNC scored its go-ahead run on a wild sequence that began when Wood Myers lined a hard shot to right-center with runners on first and second. Terps centerfielder Charlie White just missed making a spectacular catch, but the ball trickled from the web of his glove.
Tar Heel runner Michael Massardo, who had originally held up, arrived at the plate almost simultaneously with the relay throw and was ruled safe on a close play.
That made it 8-7 and opened the floodgates for five more runs on consecutive base hits by Landon Lassiter, Skye Bolt and Tyler Ramirez.
Bolt finished 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. Michael Russell, who sat out Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Virginia with a sore back, worked in three at-bats at designated hitter and went 2-for-3 while also driving in two runs.
Kevin Martir continued his hot streak for Maryland, which lost for the first time in 12 games. The sophomore catcher went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run homer – his second of the tournament – in the third inning.
The Tar Heels scored 13 runs after scoring a combined seven in their previous four games and leaving 11 runners stranded on base in Friday night’s loss to Virginia.
“It’s a matter of coming to ballpark the next day and telling yourself, ‘It’s not going to happen again – We get runners in scoring position, we’re going to get the job done today,’ “ UNC senior Parks Jordan said. “I think it's the resiliency of our team and just coming back today and getting the job done with runners in scoring position.”
UNC outhit Maryland 15-13 as the teams used a combined eight pitchers. Reilly Hovis (8-1) picked up the win, while Robert Galligan (0-1) took the loss for the Terps.
“We had a lot of guys get a lot of good swings today,” Szefc said. “We could have played a bit better defense, but our guys battled throughout that game. I know the score doesn't look real pretty but it set us up. We got a lot of guys work. Our guys will be absolutely fine tomorrow. No question about that.”