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No. 12 North Carolina Rallies to Take Opener 8-5
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/25/2011
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Sophomore Marcus Stroman recorded his second straight three-hit game and has now reached base safely in seven consecutive plate appearances.
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Brian Holberton delivered a bases-loaded, go-ahead triple in the fifth inning as the 12th-ranked Tar Heels won the series opener 8-5 over Tobacco Road rival Duke on Friday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.


Game two of the series has been moved up to a noon start time on Saturday due to the threat of inclement weather later in the day. The game was originally slated for 2 p.m.


With Duke (15-9, 2-5 ACC) leading 4-3 in the fifth inning, Holberton, who finished 3-for-4, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and drove a sinking line drive to left field that just got under the glove of a diving Anthony D'Alessandro. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, and all three North Carolina base runners scored to put the Tar Heels ahead 6-4.


North Carolina starter Patrick Johnson (5-0) came back out and pitched a scoreless sixth, but allowed Duke second baseman Marcus Stroman to lead off the seventh with a double for the sophomore infielder’s sixth consecutive at bat with a hit. Tar Heel reliever Shane Taylor then entered the game and recorded three outs, trading a sacrifice fly to Duke freshman Angelo LaBruna in the process, and then yielded to relievers Tate Parish and Cody Penny who closed out the final two frames with Penny recording his fifth save of the season.


Holberton’s triple was the difference in a tight game that saw Duke take a 4-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to back-to-back two-out, two-run singles from freshman Mark Tatera and Stroman. Stroman recorded his second straight three-hit game and reached base safely for the seventh consecutive plate appearance with a walk in the ninth inning. The 5-9, 185-pound second baseman also swiped two bases, giving him six on the season.


After Duke’s big first inning, however, North Carolina used a first-inning RBI groundout from Jacob Stallings and an RBI single from Colin Moran to chip away at the Duke lead. Duke starter Dennis O'Grady (4-1) battled and was able to keep the two-run lead intact heading into the fifth, but gave up a single to three-hitter Tommy Coyle – one of his three in the game – and a pair of walks to load the bases. North Carolina first baseman Jesse Wierzbicki then welcomed newly-inserted reliever Ben Grisz to the game with an RBI single, and Holberton followed with his three-run triple that was inches away from being caught on the dive by D’Alessandro in left field.


North Carolina totaled 11 hits in the game, though Grisz and fellow junior reliever Joe Pedevillano combined to hold the Tar Heels to one hit after the big fifth inning. The deficit was too much for Duke to overcome against the North Carolina bullpen, however, as Taylor, Parrish and Penny combined to surrender just one hit and one walk the rest of the way.


On the mound for game two of the series, which will start at noon at Boshamer Stadium, will be Duke southpaw Dillon Haviland (1-1, 1.06 ERA) and North Carolina lefty Kent Emanuel (3-1, 1.84 ERA).



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