CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In nearly a carbon copy of Friday night’s classic, No. 11 East Carolina scored four runs in the top of the seventh to overtake No. 12 North Carolina 6-5 Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.
The Pirates (5-1) completed the weekend home and home sweep of the Tar Heels (4-3) and have won six of the last 10 meetings in the series.
Lane Hoover notched a pair of hits, a run scored and an RBI while Jacob Starling drove in a pair of runs. Tomas Frick went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a home run for the home side.
Erik Ritchie (1-0) snagged his first career win, throwing 0.2 scoreless with a strikeout. Justin Szestowicki (0-1) was tagged with the loss after surrendering two runs on three hits without recording an out. 2023 AAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Carter Spivey collected his first save of the season, tossing a full inning of relief and managing his way out of a sizable jam.
North Carolina mounted an early rally in the bottom of the first when Vance Honeycutt and Mac Horvath drew consecutive walks to begin the frame. Frick then gave the Tar Heels a 1-0 advantage with an RBI double to right before Alberto Osuna worked a two-out walk to load the bases, but Josh Grosz froze Jackson Van De Brake on a 2-2 pitch to escape the jam without further damage.
Luke Nowak attempted to get the ECU offense going in the top of the second, reaching on an infield single and stealing second, but a strikeout left him stranded. The Pirates had a runner reach third for the first time in the fourth as Hoover was hit by a pitch and advanced on a pair of groundouts. He would stay there, however, thanks to an inning-ending pop up to short.
North Carolina added to its advantage in the bottom of the fourth with a Honeycutt solo home run to left field that propelled home club ahead 2-0. However, Alec Makarewicz lined the first pitch of the fifth frame over the wall in left to pull the Purple and Gold back within one.
A bottom half of the fifth leadoff double by Casey Cook was followed by a two-run home run off the bat of Frick, putting the Tar Heels in front 4-1 before Willie Lumpkin relieved Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman and limited North Carolina to a lone single the rest of the inning. Nowak plated Starling on a fielder’s choice in the top of the sixth, but Horvath restored the Tar Heels’ three-run advantage with a solo homer in the home half.
East Carolina jumped ahead in the top of the seventh, putting a string of hits together. Joey Berini singled to lead things off before Cam Clonch was hit by a pitch with one away. A Jacob Jenkins-Cowart RBI single, Hoover RBI double and Starling two-run double all occurred consecutively to give the Pirates a 6-5 edge.
After Tyler Bradt worked a clean top of the eighth, the late drama ensued. An error allowed Frick to reach on an error before Bradt hit Hunter Stokely to put two on with no outs. Spivey entered at that point and spun a masterpiece of a save, inducing a bunt pop up, a fly ball to left and a game-ending grounder to third that left the tying run 90 feet away.
- Postgame Notes Graphic
- East Carolina grabbed its first win in Chapel Hill since downing North Carolina 9-5 back on May 8, 2019.
- The Pirates have allowed the first run in five of six games this season but have rallied to win twice.
- The teams combined for eight extra-base hits.
- Jenkins-Cowart and Nowak recorded a hit for the sixth-straight contest to begin the 2023 campaign.
- Ryley Johnson made his first start of the season in right field.
Up Next: East Carolina returns to the Triangle Tuesday afternoon for a midweek matchup with Duke at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the contest will be streamed live via ACC Network Extra.