CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina pitchers Kent Emanuel and Greg Holt combined for seven scoreless innings of baseball, and Jesse Wierzbicki’s four-RBI performance helped lift the 12th-ranked Tar Heels to an 11-2 series-clinching win over Duke on Saturday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.
After allowing Duke to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning, Emanuel (4-1) shut down the Blue Devils and went on to retire 12 of the next 13 batters he faced through the fifth inning. The Tar Heel southpaw scattered four hits with six strikeouts before handing it over to Greg Holt, who threw three shutout innings to pick up his second save of the season. Holt gave up just one hit with a career-high six strikeouts over his three complete innings.
Wierzbicki provided the offense with a game-tying two-run double in the fourth inning and a two-run single in an eight-run eighth inning. Wierzbicki’s two-run single in the eighth broke open what had been a one-run game until that inning and sparked North Carolina’s eight-run, six-hit rally. The Tar Heels held onto a 3-2 lead until that point after third baseman Colin Moran provided the go-ahead run with a solo home run in the sixth inning.
Moran’s home run came off of Duke sophomore Chase Bebout (2-1), who came out of the bullpen for his first appearance since March 11. Bebout, who was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA as Duke’s Friday starter, took over for freshman southpaw Dillon Haviland, who held North Carolina four hits through five innings and left the game tied at 2-2. The Tar Heels managed to plate eight runs against Bebout, however, and saddled the 6-6 right-hander with his first loss of the year.
Duke (15-10, 2-6 ACC) struck first when freshman Angelo LaBruna delivered a one-run single with the bases loaded in the second inning to score classmate Anthony D'Alessandro. Fellow classmate Chris Marconcini contributed the second run in the inning with a two-out, one-run single that put Duke on top 2-0. The RBI by Marconcini was his 14th with two outs as he is now batting .500 in two-out situations.
The Tar Heels fired back in the fourth inning to tie the game on the two-out, two-run double by Wierzbicki. Before giving up the double, Haviland sat down eight straight batters and used just 28 pitches to get through the first three frames.
UNC put up another run in the bottom half of the sixth inning on Moran’s home run to right field. The long ball was the fourth of the season for Moran and increased his ACC-leading RBI total to 32.
An eight-run inning in the bottom of the eighth by the Tar Heels put away any hopes of a Duke comeback. North Carolina scored its eight runs on six hits with three of the hits being consecutive doubles. Wierzbicki plated the first two runs on a soft fly ball to right that fell just in front of Marconcini for a two-run single. Brian Holberton added a run with a single before Levi Michael’s two-run double broke the game wide open. The Tar Heels added the final three runs of the game as two came from one-run singles by Chaz Frank and Tommy Coyle.
The Blue Devils will try to avoid the sweep on Sunday when they send Marcus Stroman (1-1, 3.38 ERA) to the mound opposite North Carolina right-hander Cody Stiles (3-0, 1.46 ERA). Start time for the game is set for 1 p.m.