Cody Stubbs’s sacrifice fly ball to left field scored Tommy Coyle to give UNC (46-15) a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Stubbs scored in the sixth on Brian Holberton’s RBI single to left field.
ECU (35-24-1) broke its 19-inning scoreless streak in Chapel Hill on Drew Reynolds’ RBI single to left field in the bottom of the sixth. Jacob Stallings answered with a RBI sac fly in the top of the seventh and pinch hitter Mike Zolk opened up a sizeable 5-1 advantage with a two-run double up the middle with the bases loaded latter in the inning.
Tim Younger added a RBI single to centerfield in the eighth, but East Carolina stranded two baserunners to kill the rally.
Moss (7-2) earned the win for UNC. Jharel Cotton lost his third straight start by walking three, hitting another and giving up two earned runs in 5.1 innings.
Michael Morin returned to the mound in the ninth less than 20 hours after he allowed a three-run walk-off homerun to Danny Bethea. The junior All-American gave up a homerun to John Wooten, but closed out the Pirates for his school-record 19th save of the season.
INSIDE THE GAME
Pitching the Difference
Mike Fox blamed his defense for Saturday night’s loss to St. John’s. Billy Godwin wasn’t as quite as direct in pointing his finger at his club’s pitching for Sunday’s loss, but his message was similar.
Through eight innings, the Pirates pitching staff had totaled eight walks, a hit by pitch and a balk. For a North Carolina team that often struggles to score runs, that quality of pitching – or lack thereof – provided an offensive boost.
“It was a game of freebies,” East Carolina head coach Billy Godwin told reporters following the game. “We talk about how when you play good clubs, you can’t get away with eight walks. If you told me before the game that we were going to come in here and get 10 hits, they were going to have five and we’re not going to make any errors, you would like your chances… Walks are like hits in this game.”
Moss, on the other hand, continued his strong play with six innings of one-run ball. North Carolina turned three double plays – two with ECU threatening in the third and fourth innings – and limited the Pirates to three men left on base.
“Pitching and defense – today’s very typical of a lot of our wins,” Fox said.
R.C. Orlan Update
Orlan, UNC’s top middle reliever, replaced Moss in the seventh inning, but left the mound with UNC trainer Terri Jo Rucinski with two on and two outs in the eighth with an apparent arm injury.
Fox did not have an update during his post game press conference, but did say that he “didn’t think it was anything serious.”
When asked what Orlan told the coaching staff when he left the mound, Fox responded: “He just said a couple of batters before it just started kind of tightening up on him a little bit. That was all I heard him say.”
Orlan entered the game with an 8-1 record and a 2.11 ERA in a team-high 37 appearances this season.
North Carolina returns to the mound for a 6pm first pitch against St. John’s in a rematch of Saturday night’s thriller. Shane Taylor (5-0, 2.75 ERA) is expected to start for UNC, while Matt Carasiti (6-5, 3.79 ERA, RHP) will get the ball for the Red Storm.
Taylor threw 4.1 scoreless innings in his first career postseason start against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament on May 23rd. The sophomore allowed three hits, struck out two and walked four Demon Deacons.
A UNC victory in the night would force a winner-take-all regional finale on Monday at 6pm.
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