Until that point of the contest, UNC’s potent offense looked non- threatening. All-American Colin Moran delivered a solo home run in the first inning, but little else was working. This was due to both Miami’s pitching and the inability to get the usual attacking Mike Fox style of base running going. In the eighth, UNC’s offensive sequence started out looking like more of the same.
Alex Raburn pinch hit to lead things off and grounded out to Miami’s shortstop Brandon Lopez to get the first out of the inning. With one out, Chaz Frank brought the top of the lineup back to the plate, but lined out for the second out. It began to look as though extra innings were destined for the Coastal Division rivals.
Then Michael Russell stepped up to the plate with two outs and no runners on base. He provided a spark with a deep high fly ball that landed at the bottom of the 335-foot marker in left field for a double. Long-time Miami manager Jim Morris wisely decided to walk Moran to avoid giving the Tar Heel slugger an opportunity to knock in the potential winning run.
While that approach may have played out to the Hurricanes’ advantage last season, Bolt provided reason suggest that pitching around Moran may no longer be a wise option.
“[Moran is] the kid that you look up to when you get here as a freshman,” Bolt said. “Your mentor at the dish. They walk him and he looks behind and gives you words of encouragement as you go up there and all you can do is smile and take the reins.”
Bolt, who leads the Tar Heels with a batting average of .418, was ready for the moment.
“You kind of feel it,” he said. “You’re at home. It’s something I think you dream about. Bottom of the eighth with two outs…”
With runners on first and second, Bolt swung confidently at an inside fastball from Miami’s A.J. Salcines. He immediately threw his hands in the air because both he and everyone in attendance at Boshamer Stadium knew it was gone as soon as it clanged off the bat.
“I felt good contact on the ball,” Bolt said. “You kind of feel that trampoline effect. I followed through and maybe I shouldn’t have but I put my hands up as soon as I hit it and I knew it was gone.”
The three-run shot from Bolt electrified the fans in attendance at Boshamer Stadium and put the Tar Heels up 4-1 heading into the top of the ninth.
Chris McCue retired the side and put away the Hurricanes to end the afternoon with a UNC victory in emphatic fashion. More importantly, North Carolina secured the critical series win.
Bolt didn’t shy away from the moment: “I’m expecting to do it again and be in that situation. You’ve got to live for it and thrive off of it.”
UNC’s head coach noted after the game: “The Bolt kid is pretty special.”
The Tar Heels are now 18-1 on the season and 5-1 in ACC play.