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No. 1 North Carolina scored on a wild pitch in the 10th to escape with a 9-8 win over Tech.
Dave Knachel | Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech starter Joe Mantiply delivers a pitch against top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday at English Field in Blacksburg. The Tar Heels scored a run in the 10th to beat the Hokies.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
BLACKSBURG — North Carolina banged out 14 hits Saturday, but that wasn’t the reason Virginia Tech lost the game.
Colin Moran slid home on Clark Labitan’s wild pitch in the 10th inning to give the top-ranked Tar Heels a 9-8 victory in front of 2,811 fans at English Field.
The Tar Heels (33-2, 14-2 ACC) scored the winning run thanks to a walk, an error, a fielder’s choice and the wild pitch.
“You feel better about [a loss] when someone earns it,” Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes said. “You almost feel less worse if the ball was banged off the wall.
“It’s just frustrating. … You just want to … do the right things late in the game and it’s disappointing we didn’t.”
The 10th inning wasn’t the only reason the Hokies (22-14, 7-10) were kicking themselves.
Tech scored two runs in the eighth to tie the score at 8 and still had the bases full with no outs. They left the bases loaded.
“You look at it as one [game] you should’ve had,” said Andrew Rash, who struck out in that inning. “You look at it sick because we’re one swing away from winning.”
“It was a wasted opportunity, a win that we had and we didn’t execute,” Hughes said.
Tech, which lost to UNC 21-8 on Friday, fell to 1-22 against the Tar Heels since joining the ACC. The series concludes today.
“I’m 0-13 against them,” said Rash, a fifth-year senior. “I want to beat these guys more than anything.”
Down 8-6, Tech loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. UNC freshman Trent Thornton then took the mound.
“It was a very intense situation,” Thornton said. “I had the butterflies.”
Thornton (8-0), who entered the game with a 0.60 ERA, walked Alex Perez to let in one run. Gary Schneider hit a bloop RBI single to left to tie the score at 8.
The next three hitters were among the best on Tech’s team, but they came away empty.
Thornton struck out Rash, who belted two homers earlier in the game, for the first out.
“I can’t strike out with bases loaded and no outs,” Rash said. “I basically lost the game for my team. … In that situation, I’ve got to produce.
“I let us down a lot last year and didn’t get us to the [NCAA] tournament, and I want to get us to the tournament this year.”
Major-league draft prospect Chad Pinder grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Chad Morgan thrown out at home for the second out. Thornton retired cleanup hitter Tyler Horan on a called third strike to end the inning.
Labitan (0-3), the Hokies’ closer, walked Moran to begin the 10th.
Brian Holberton reached base on first baseman Schneider’s fielding error. Schneider missed the bag trying to retire Holberton on a bunt.
Sean Keselica usually starts at first base for Tech, with Schneider in right field, but Keselica missed his second straight game with a back injury.
Cody Stubbs reached base on a fielder’s choice, with Holberton out at second and Moran moving to third.
Moran scored on the wild pitch, which catcher Mark Zagunis could not snare.
“I threw it and it was a little up,” Labitan said. “I overthrew it a little bit and it just ran off the tip of his glove. It was a tough one to catch.
“I put a lot of blame on myself for not hitting my spot.”
Rash belted a two-run homer in the first to tie the score at 2. He also smacked a three-run shot in the fourth to tie the score at 6.
UNC loaded the bases against reliever Jake Joyce in the seventh, but the Carlisle graduate retired Landon Lassiter on a called third strike to get out of the jam. UNC coach Mike Fox was ejected for arguing the call.
Holberton belted a two-run homer off Joyce in the eighth to give UNC an 8-6 lead.
Moran had three hits, including a homer, and four RBIs. Schneider had three hits and one RBI.
UNC played without cleanup hitter Skye Bolt, who suffered a broken foot Friday.
North Carolina 230 100 020 1 — 9 14 1
Virginia Tech 201 300 020 0 — 8 12 2
Moss, McCue (6), Thornton (8) and Roberts; Mantiply, Joyce (5), Labitan (8) and Zagunis. W— Thornton (8-0). L— Labitan (0-3). HRs— UNC: Moran (9), Holberton (6); Tech: Rash 2 (7).
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