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Tar Heels score winning run on illegal pitch in bottom of sixth
BLACKSBURG, Va. (theACC.com) – After thriving on the long ball throughout the regular season, North Carolina won its Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship quarterfinal game in unlikely fashion.
The second-seeded Tar Heels clipped seventh-seeded Virginia Tech by a 3-2 score Thursday evening, with the winning run scoring from third base when Hokies hurler Maggie Tyler was called for an illegal pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
UNC (36-13) advanced to Friday’s 3:30 p.m. semifinal game against the winner of Thursday night’s final quarterfinal game between third-seeded Notre Dame and sixth-seeded Pitt. Virginia Tech (34-21) remains hopeful of an NCAA Tournament spot when bids are extended Sunday night.
With Thursday’s game tied 2-2 and one out in the bottom of the sixth, the Tar Heels got something brewing when Lauren Walker drew a walk and Darby Rosen followed with a double to right-center to put runners on second and third.
After pinch-hitter Jill Ferraro struck out, the Hokies opted to intentionally walk Taylor Wike. But Tyler was called for an illegal pitch prior to her third throw, forcing Walker home with what proved to be the winning run. Virginia Tech’s Kylie McGoldrick lined her third hit of the game to center with two outs in the top of the seventh, but UNC pitcher Kaylee Carlson struck out Michelle Prone looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the game
Carlson (17-8) allowed seven hits while walking three and striking out four while going the distance on the mound. Tyler (15-12) also yielded seven hits while walking five and striking out six. All five runs in the game were earned, as neither side committed a fielding error.
Amber Parrish staked the Tar Heels to a 2-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the first when she sent a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field. The home run was Parrish’s 18th of the season and the 41st of the senior catcher’s career.
UNC missed out on a chance to pad the lead after leadoff hitters Walker and Rosen both reached base. Dani Garcielita grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Tech centerfielder Lauren Gaskill made a diving catch to rob Taylor Wike of a hit. Gaskill then fired to second base to complete an inning-ending double play.
The Hokies opened the top of the fifth with three straight hits to tie the score. Caroline Schoenewald singled, and Gaskill put down a bunt and beat the throw to first base. McGoldrick followed with a double to the wall in deep center that scored both runners and made it 2-2, setting up the unusual finish.