CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Tar Heel left fielder Tyler Lynn bounced a bases-loaded infield single to short in the bottom of the 10th to secure a 3-2 walkoff victory for No. 3 North Carolina over Duke Friday evening at Boshamer Stadium.
Duke (28-26, 12-17 ACC) struck for two early runs and led 2-1 until the bottom of the seventh when a Brian Miller RBI fielder's choice tied the game. After two scoreless innings, North Carolina (43-11, 22-7 ACC) loaded the bases in the 10th to set the scene for Lynn's walkoff single.
“Unbelievably proud of our club,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We competed great. I don't have any issues with our fight or the way we played the ballgame.”
Duke jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first. UNC's J.B. Bukauskas walked sophomore Jimmy Herron to lead off the game, then surrendered a Zack Kone single. With two outs and runners at the corners, sophomore Kennie Taylor bounced an RBI infield single up the middle to plate the game's opening tally.
The Blue Devils tacked on a second run in the second. Junior Peter Zyla lofted a double to deep right field that Brandon Riley was unable to corral after colliding with the wall. Duke received another key two-out hit, this time a Herron RBI double inside the left field line.
Herron reached base in three of his five plate appearances, drawing two walks in addition to the double.
Three straight Tar Heels reached with one out in the third to pull North Carolina within a run. Ashton McGee provided the RBI hit, but starter Ryan Day worked out of the jam without further damage.
Day exited after the third with a 2-1 lead. The Duke right-hander yielded one run on four hits in three innings, striking out four and walking a batter.
“We knew we wanted to get Ryan Day out of the ballgame early to set him up for next week,” Pollard said.
The Herron second-inning double was Duke's last hit until the top of the ninth as Bukauskas found his rhythm and retired 12 straight Blue Devils until a two-out walk in the seventh. The UNC ace covered seven innings in the no decision, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking four. Reliever Josh Hiatt (4-1) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth before Max Miller singled to lead off the ninth.
Hiatt ultimately earned the win following three scoreless innings.
“We had some chances there late where we had some free offense and we were one hit away, but Josh Hiatt was just really, really good,” Pollard said.
Duke reliever Karl Blum pitched three hitless, scoreless innings in relief before a seventh-inning leadoff double and walk ended his outing. A Brian Miller RBI fielder's choice then tied the game, 2-2.
After recording a six-out save the night before, graduate student Nick Hendrix got Duke off the field without further damage. Junior Chris McGrath (1-2) pitched a shutout ninth before UNC was able to break through in the 10th.
“Karl Blum picked us up huge,” Pollard added. “Came in and threw the baseball great. Nick Hendrix comes in a gets him off the field then gives us another clean inning. Chris McGrath gave us a clean inning in the ninth. We executed a really good pitch … got a gap shot to left center field. With the bases loaded, we executed great. I was really proud of Chris McGrath. He did a great job of staying in the moment and executing pitches.”
Duke and North Carolina concludes the series and the regular season schedule at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 19 on ACC Network Extra.