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No. 1 North Carolina Downs Liberty
With the loss, Liberty drops to 3-3 on the year, while North Carolina improves to 4-1. The contest was the first meeting between the two squads since 2003. The Tar Heels entered the week ranked No. 1 in the nation in the NCBWA poll.
The host Tar Heels jumped out to an early advantage in the bottom of the contest's opening inning. A triple off the top of the right-center field wall by first baseman Dustin Ackley plated second baseman Levi Michael, who had reached on a fielder's choice, with the first run of the contest. Third baseman Kyle Seager followed with a RBI ground out to score Ackley and give North Carolina a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third frame, the Tar Heels added four more runs, extending their advantage to 6-0. With one out, Ackley received a walk from Liberty reliever Shawn Teufel (Jr., Tequesta, Fla.) and moved to third on a single by Seager. The next hitter, right fielder Garrett Gore, doubled into the right-center field gap, plating both runners. Catcher Mark Fleury followed with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot.
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning, striking for five runs with two outs. Catcher Errol Hollinger (Sr., Upland, Calif.) walked to begin the uprising and scored on a blast over the right field fence by third baseman Tyler Bream (Fr., Zelienople, Pa.). The freshman's first collegiate home run cut the Tar Heel advantage to 6-2. First baseman Trey Wimmer (Fr., Greenwood, S.C.) walked to continue the frame and advanced to third on a double into the left field gap by shortstop Matt Williams (Fr., Franklin, Tenn.). Center fielder Curran Redal (Moses Lake, Wash.) followed by lining a triple to the base of the right-center field wall to plate both runners, chasing North Carolina starter Bryant Gaines. Against Tar Heel reliever Logan Munson, right fielder Tim Rotola (Sr., Wichita, Kan.) beat out a chopper to first base for an infield single, bringing home Redal to slice the Flames' deficit to 6-5.
North Carolina countered in the bottom of the frame, tallying a pair of two-out runs of its own. Ackley received a base on balls to keep the home half of the fourth alive. Seager followed with a double, scoring Ackley, who beat the relay throw to the plate. The next hitter, Gore, singled to bring home Seager, upping the Tar Heel lead to 8-5.
Liberty threatened in the seventh inning, as a two-out single by Hollinger put Flames runners on the corners. However, relief pitcher Colin Bates was summoned from the bullpen and promptly retired the next Liberty batter to put down the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, the Tar Heels loaded the bases against Liberty pitcher Tyler Light (Sr., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) with two outs, and then added a run, when Seager walked to force in a run for the final score of 9-5.
On a staff day for the Flames, starter Andrew Wilson (Sr., RHP, Cary, N.C.) takes the loss, evening his record at 1-1 on the season. The right-hander, the first of six Liberty hurlers to take the mound in the contest, gave up two runs on one hit in two innings of work, walking three and striking out one.
North Carolina reliever Munson picks up his first victory of the season. The second of five Tar Heel pitchers in the game, Munson scattered three hits over three scoreless innings of relief.
Redal paced the Flames with two of their seven hits in the contest. Gore and Seager had two hits and three RBIs apiece for the Tar Heels. Fleury also added two hits to North Carolina's total of nine in the game.
Liberty opens its 2009 home schedule this weekend, when it hosts the Manhattan Jaspers in a three-game series at Worthington Stadium. The series begins Saturday with a doubleheader. The twinbill is scheduled to begin at Noon.