CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Colin Moran’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth sent the game to extra innings, and Jacob Stallings’ walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted No. 12 North Carolina to a 7-6 win over Duke on Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.
Stallings finished 2-for-6 with two singles, one RBI and a run scored, while Moran was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Along with Moran, Ben Bunting tagged a solo home run that tied the game in the sixth inning for one of his three hits in the game.
With the win, North Carolina (23-3, 7-2 ACC) earns one point in the “Battle of the Blues” competition, sponsored by Continental Tire. The Tar Heels currently lead the all-sports competition between the Tobacco Road rivals 10-8.
Duke (15-11, 2-7 ACC) scored its six runs on ten hits, including triples by Angelo LaBruna and Dennis O'Grady. LaBruna finished 2-for-5 with a single, a triple, one RBI and a run scored, while O’Grady drove his two-run triple with two outs in the top of the ninth to give Duke a three-run cushion heading into the bottom half of the final inning.
Duke’s 6-3 lead would not last, however, as Moran – the ACC RBI leader – mashed his fifth homer of the year over the right-center field wall to tie the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Two innings later, Stallings came to the plate with runners at the corners and slapped a high chopper that bounced into the outfield to complete the comeback, walk-off win.
For the third time in the series, the Blue Devils plated the first run of the game, scoring in the top of the first inning on a wild pitch by starter Cody Stiles that came with the bases loaded and allowed sophomore Jeff Kremer to score from third. Kremer started the first-inning rally with a single that extended his ACC-game hit streak to six contests.
Duke then added another run in the top of the second inning after LaBruna reached on a leadoff single and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Munger. LaBruna then reached third after a fielding error on a grounder from Anthony D'Alessandro and crossed the plate from sacrifice fly to deep centerfield by Kremer.
Duke starter Marcus Stroman held North Carolina scoreless over the first three innings, but the Tar Heels finally answered with two runs in the fourth. The Tar Heels started the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff double from Moran. Chaz Frank put North Carolina on the board with a one-run double, and Seth Baldwin plated the final run of the inning on a one-run single to tie the game at 2-2.
LaBruna gave Duke the 3-2 lead in the sixth inning with a one-run triple that scored O’Grady after he reached base on a leadoff walk. The Tar Heels’ Bunting answered right back in the bottom half of the seventh inning solo home run – his first of the season - that tied the game at 3-3. Bunting’s homer came off of Duke freshman Drew Van Orden, who entered the game in the sixth in place of Stroman, who held North Carolina to two runs over five complete innings.
D’Alessandro responded in the top of the eighth inning with a one-run single that scored LaBruna that put the Blue Devils back on top 4-3. Duke added two more runs in the top of the ninth on the second triple of the afternoon, this one from O’Grady with two outs. With men on Chris Marconcini and Will Piwnica-Worms on first and second, O’Grady ripped his first triple of the year to left-center field to score both runners and put Duke on top 6-3.
Reliever Joe Pedevillano, who took the mound in the eighth and scattered one hit in his first frame, came within two outs of retiring the side in the ninth, but gave up Moran’s three-run bomb to allow the Tar Heels back into the game.
Duke reliever Ben Grisz (1-1) then took over and held North Carolina without a run over the next two innings, but gave up a leadoff single to Coyle in the 11th to allow the go-ahead run to reach base. Pinch hitter Tom Zengel then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Grisz tried to cut the lead runner off at second base and misfired his throw into center field. The error allowed Coyle to reach third, and Stallings followed with his walk-off single to left field to end the game.
Up next, Duke will travel for a midweek road matchup at Campbell on Tuesday, March 29, in Buies Creek, N.C. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.