CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – After falling behind early, #1 North Carolina’s steady offense scored an 11-3 win over VMI on Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium. With the win, the Tar Heels (3-0) sweep the weekend series against the Keydets (0-3).
Top-ranked Carolina got an impressive performance from starting pitcher Matt Harvey (1-0), who struck out 11 over five innings, allowing only three hits. Following a three-run home run by VMI junior Jordan Ballard in the first inning, Harvey set down the next 12 batters that he faced, allowing one base runner for the rest of his five-inning outing.
Keydet freshman Jeremy Brown (0-1) took the loss in his first collegiate appearance, allowing five runs without recording an out in the third inning. Brown gave way to redshirt junior Matt Edwards, who scattered six hits over four innings, allowing only one run.
The middle of the Tar Heel lineup combined to go 10-for-13 in the game, led by junior Dustin Ackley’s 5-for-5 performance. Kyle Seager went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI, while Garrett Gore continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-3.
The Keydets came out firing on all cylinders early, as sophomore Sam Roberts led off the game with a single up the middle, followed two batters later by a base knock from junior Tanner Biagini. Ballard then delivered his second round-tripper of the weekend, giving the Keydets a 3-0 advantage early.
Carolina cut the lead to 3-1 in the first inning then threatened in the second. Keydet starter John Phelps, however, escaped the second-inning jam without surrendering the lead. After three consecutive walks to start the frame, Phelps retired the next three batters, surrendering a sacrifice fly along the way, to allow the visitors to hold onto a 3-2 advantage.
While Harvey continued to roll along, Carolina rallied to take the lead in the third. Brown began the inning in relief of Phelps and surrendered four hits, including an RBI triple, and a pair of walks, leaving the game trailing 6-3. Edwards came on to retire the next three batters to escape further damage, allowing only one more run despite entering with a pair of runners on.
VMI mounted its next rally in the sixth off of reliever Nate Striz, putting two runners in scoring position with one out. Striz bounced back with a pair of strikeouts before Carolina tacked on an insurance run. The same came true in the eighth, when VMI threatened with three base runners but came up empty, before Carolina rallied for three runs to bring the final margin to 11-3.
The Keydets were led offensively by Ballard, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, while freshman Chase Worthington went 2-for-2 as a late-inning replacement at third base.
VMI returns to Lexington to take on Old Dominion in its home opener on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Gray-Minor Stadium.