Tar Heels lift 7 HRs, hammer Miami Hurricanes on St. Patrick’s Day

Tar Heels Miami Hurricanes

Miami, Florida – The 15th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels got revenge and salvaged the weekend series mercy ruling the hapless Miami Hurricanes 18-6. UNC was also run-ruled Friday night losing 14-1, avenging the series opener against their conference foes. North Carolina had only scored a pair heading into Sunday. They feasted on UM’s arms putting up runs in nearly every inning. Accounting for seven of the eight homers recorded today at the Light, the Tar Heels muscled their way to an early four-run lead. However, Miami overcame a slow start after Shea Sprague struck out six in a row rallying to make it a 5-4 battle through four frames.

North Carolina dominated from that point onward putting up a combined 11 runs during the fifth and sixth. Sunday starter Herick Hernandez was pulled in the fourth giving up five runs on seven hits. The bullpen fared worse. All in all, Miami walked 10 batters allowing plenty of ways to score. Following the series finale, the Hurricanes slip to 11-8 (4-2, ACC). UM hosts Florida International on Tuesday before hitting the road to visit Notre Dame.

Pitching woes

North Carolina jumped to an early lead in the second. Alex Madera recorded his first home run of the season, a two-run dinger helped in part by the afternoon breeze. Things did not get easier for Hernandez. During the third, the Canes’ starter thought he struck out Vance Honeycutt not once but twice to end the inning. Instead, he walked him setting up for the Parks Harber homer making it 4-0 Tar Heels. UNC then loaded the bases, however, the southpaw got out of the jam throwing three consecutive strikes freezing Luke Stevenson.

After Lorenzo Carrier reached base on a throwing error by the third baseman that same inning, Jake Kulikowski launched one to left-center cutting the lead in half. Blake Cyr doubled down the third base line advancing further on a fielding error but was left stranded.

The Tar Heels kept on coming. At the top of the fourth, Colby Wilkerson drew a walk followed up by an RBI double from Gavin Gallaher. Ben Chestnutt came in retiring the next two batters. Miami knocked out Sprague in the fourth. Jack Scanlon doubled down the right field line scoring Dorian Gonzalez to make it 5-3 triggering the pitching change. JD Urso put the ball in play with two aboard hitting a light flare to right field that no one could collect plating Scanlon. It was as close as they’d get.

Carolina answered with five in the fifth including a grand slam courtesy of Gallaher. UNC kept on rolling feasting on the hapless bullpen putting up six the next frame seeing two more dingers and a throwing error via a careless pickoff attempt. The Tar Heels tacked on two more in the seventh bringing down the Hurricanes.

Impressions

I’m pretty sure the Canes will crack the top 25. Given they’ve won two straight weekend series versus top-15 ranked ACC opponents, Sunday’s embarrassment can be overlooked slightly. The team’s season will largely hinge on how the pitching performs, the bullpen especially. Both Gage Ziehl and Rafe Schlesinger bounced back nicely this weekend with the latter experiencing a good season thus far. Hernandez should be able to hold down the Sunday spot. However, the relief corps’ weakness has been made painfully clear again. Combined they issued seven of the 10 walks today.

The pitching fell behind a lot resulting in hitter’s counts and lots of hits. The staff tossed 215 pitches today. For the offense, Daniel Cuvet went hitless the entire series, a notable slump. Let’s see if Miami bounces back against crosstown rival FIU on Tuesday.

Gus Bus Award

The Tar Heels gave the Miami Hurricanes their worst loss of the season, so far. No way anyone gets this.

You’re Killing Me Smalls

Daniel Cuvet’s bat cooled big time this weekend going 0-for-10 (also three walks) and striking out four times. He flied out with the bases loaded in the sixth pretty much symbolizing the sort of day he was having.

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