GREENSBORO, N.C. – North Carolina scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 7-7 tie to defeat Maryland, 13-7, in the final game of pool play for the Terps Saturday night at NewBridge Bank Park at the ACC Baseball Championship.
Despite the loss, the Terps (36-20) won Pool B with a 2-1 record and have advanced to Sunday’s championship game at 1 p.m. against Georgia Tech. It is Maryland’s first appearance in an ACC Tournament final since 1976.
North Carolina’s late-inning surge spoiled a great come-from-behind effort by Maryland. Trailing 7-2, the Terps scored five runs in the seventh including three consecutive two-out hits to tie the game.
“I thought our guys really played hard today,” said head coach John Szefc. “They showed up, they played hard. The result obviously was not what we were look for necessarily, but like I said to them after the game, all we have asked from these guys all year is to be consistent, to be able to show up every day and to play real hard and to fight through it.
“I think that even though the result wasn’t what we were looking for, I feel like we are absolutely prepared to go into tomorrow.”
The Terps rallied to tie the game in the seventh scoring five runs on six hits including three two-out hits. Three consecutive singles to start the inning by Blake Schmit, Tim Lewis and Nick Cieri brought home the first run of the inning. Cieri’s single through the right side scored Schmit and moved Lewis to third. Lewis, who extended his hitting streak to 13, came home one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Papio trimming the deficit to three.
Cieri stole second following a Kevin Martir strikeout and came home on a RBI single to right by Charlie White, who advanced to second on the throw home. On the next pitch, Wade fired the ball into the gap in right center for a run-scoring double. Lowe then dropped a single into left scoring Wade to tie the game at seven.
“We have been swinging the bats well all tournament,” said centerfielder Charlie White. “In the seventh inning it was contagious and took off and [we] put up a big inning there.”
The game remained tied heading to the bottom of the eighth when North Carolina broke it open with a six-run inning. After placing runners on first and second with one out, the Tar Heels strung together four straight run scoring singles to grab an 11-7 lead. A sacrifice fly and RBI single from Parks Jordan put the Tar Heels up by six.
North Carolina (34-25) jumped out in front of the Terps in their first at-bat plating a run on back-to-back doubles. Following a Terrapin double play that erased a leadoff single, Landon Lassiter doubled to left and came home on the next at-bat when Skye Bolt found the gap in left center for a run scoring double.
In the second, the Heels increased their lead to three on the back of a two-RBI single from Michael Russell. Alex Raburn reached to start the inning on an errant throw by Maryland starter Zach Morris and moved to third on a double by Jordan. With one down, Russell singled to left to plate two runs.
The Terps responded in the third and cut the deficit to one highlighted by Martir’s second home run of the tournament. Papio got the bats going with a line drive single off the leg of Carolina starter Zac Gallen with one out in the frame.
On the first pitch of the at-bat, Martir drove the ball to left center and over the wall to cut the deficit to one. It was Martir’s fourth home run of the season and his third in the last seven games.
In the fifth, the Tar Heels scored four runs all with two outs. Reliever Jared Price retired the first two batters of the inning on a ground out and a liner to right. But consecutive singles by Bolt and Tyler Ramirez, and a walk to Raburn loaded the bases.
Price got Jordan to chop a grounder towards Lowe at second for what appeared to be the final out of the inning. But Lowe’s throw to first was errant and got by LaMonte Wade allowing two runs to score. Zach Daly then singled through the left side of the infield to score two more Tar Heel runs to give Carolina a 7-2 advantage.
Maryland will be looking for its first conference title since 1971 at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Yellow Jackets on ESPN2.