CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For the sixth time in eight ACC series, the Virginia Tech baseball team fell on Friday night in a one-run contest. After the Hokies took a two-run lead in the sixth, North Carolina plated three unanswered runs – and none were on any hits – and then held on in the ninth for a 3-2 victory at Boshamer Stadium.
Unfortunately, the loss was pinned to Tech starter Sean Keselica (3-3), who held the Tar Heels offense to just four hits on the night. He notched his first complete game after throwing all eight frames, striking out five and allowing just two earned runs.
Tech (18-23-1, 7-15 ACC) would give Keselica a two-run lead in the sixth frame as the Hokies finally got to Tar Heel starter Trent Thornton. They had stranded two runners on base in both the first and fifth innings – the latter saw runners on second and third with no outs.
In the sixth, Mark Zagunis hit a one-out single, stole second and moved to third on an error which was followed by a Brendon Hayden hit by pitch and a Keselica walk. Kyle Wernicki brought in Zagunis on a squeeze play and Logan Bible singled home Hayden to make it 2-0.
However, still with the bases loaded, Thornton got out of the jam with a double-play ball, something that the Hokies could not do which contributed to all of the Tar Heel runs.
UNC (25-18, 11-11 ACC) had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Skye Bolt hit a grounder to second, but beat the throw to first – avoiding the double play – which allowed one run to score. A misplay of the ball at first then allowed the second run to cross and tie the game.
The Tar Heels faced the same exact situation in the eighth, bases loaded, one out, Bolt at the plate, and almost an identical grounder to second and the inability to finish the double play brought in the go-ahead run.
In the ninth, Bible, who had three hits on the day and has reached base in nine of his last 10 plate appearances, singled with one out and moved to second on a grounder.
Reilly Hovis, though, got the final out to pick up his fifth save of the year for Trevor Kelley, who improved to 1-1 with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief work.
The two teams will play the second of their three-game series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
Additional Notes: For Zagunis, his stolen base marked the 50th of his Tech career, becoming just the second Hokie to steal at least 50 in the last 10 years – Nate Parks (2004-07) stole 99, while Austin Wates (2008-10) swiped 49 … Zagunis also notched career hit No. 197 and is just three shy of becoming the seventh Hokie to reach 200 hits as a junior … Keselica’s previous high for innings pitched was 7.1, his last two starts … Keselica’s complete game is just the second for the team this year – Brad Markey at Clemson, March 7 … Bible is also 7 for his last 8 and his last 10 plate appearances – 1B, HBP, 1B, 1B, 1B, BB, K, 2B, 1B, 1B.
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