UNC baseball downs Virginia Tech in ACC tournament pool finale, advances to semifinals

·2 min read
Anthony Sorbellini/Anthony Sorbellini

North Carolina plated four runs in the top of the first inning and that was more than enough for starting pitcher Brandon Schaeffer, who hurled a complete-game, six-hit shutout against top-seeded Virginia Tech, leading the Tar Heels to a 10-0 win over the Hokies and a berth in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

UNC (36-19) advances to face No. 4 seed Notre Dame at 1 p.m. Saturday. No. 10 N.C. State and No. 11 Pittsburgh will square off in the other semifinal at 5 p.m.

Virginia Tech (41-12) still has baseball left to play this season. The Hokies will learn their at-large NCAA tournament fate Sunday during the selection show. But Friday night belonged to the Heels, who plated four in the first — keyed by a Vance Honeycutt 2-run home run — and two more in the second to put the Hokies at an extreme disadvantage right out of the gate.

Honeycutt finished with two home runs, three total hits, three RBI and two walks. Angel Zarate (second inning) and Danny Serenetti (seventh inning) also went long for the Tar Heels.

Schaeffer scattered those six hits across his nine innings of work to earn his first career shutout, allowing only one Virginia Tech batter — Tanner Schobel — to reach base twice, on a pair of hits. Schaeffer also completed the game issuing no walks, with six strikeouts, and, thanks to a pair of double plays behind him, faced only four batters mover the minimum while tossing just 102 total pitches.

Carolina, which last claimed the ACC tournament title in 2019, hadn’t played since its 9-2 win over Clemson on Tuesday night. The Heels have now won 13 of their past 15 games.

The Heels lost their season series with the Hokies 2-1 at the beginning of April. UNC coach Scott Forbes told The News & Observer on Monday that his team has grown since that loss.

“At that point, we weren’t getting much more than three innings from our starters (pitching),” Forbes said. “And although our bullpen was good, it was a hard thing to manage because your bullpen is gonna get worn out. I would say the other thing is, we’ve really improved defensively.”

They proved that, and then some, on Friday.

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