North Carolina barely avoided a first round NCAA baseball tournament upset at the hands of an in-state rival Friday when it came from behind in its final at bat for a walkoff win against UNC Wilmington while NC State was faced with having to stage a similar ninth inning rally when rain delayed its opening round game in Greenville.
The Wolfpack trailed Campbell 5-4 and was down to its final three outs when the game was suspended for the night. The teams will finish the game on Saturday before host East Carolina plays its first regional game against Quinnipiac later in the day.
In other NCAA tournament action involving state teams, Duke got off to a winning start in the Morgantown, WVa. Regional with an 8-5 win against Texas A&M.
Here’s a recap of all the action on the weather-interrupted opening day of tournament play:
UNC 7, UNCW 6
CHAPEL HILL — Aaron Sabato hit a game-tying homer and Danny Serretti scored the winning run on an error as the Tar Heels used a marathon ninth-inning rally to edge the Seahawks in NCAA regional action..
UNC’s ninth-inning comeback was interrupted by a three-hour rain delay.
The top-seeded Tar Heels (43-17) advance to the winners’ bracket and next play either No. 2 seed Tennessee or No. 3 seed Liberty. UNCW (32-30) faces the Tennessee-Liberty loser.
The Seahawks took a 6-5 lead by scoring twice in the ninth off Austin Love (7-4). Sabato led off the bottom of the ninth by homering off Henry Ryan (4-5). Serretti followed with a walk before the rain delay started.
UNC eventually loaded the bases with one out. Serretti got caught in a rundown between third and home, but he scored when UNCW third baseman Cole Weiss made a wild throw home.
Campbell 5, NC State 4 (suspended, T9)
GREENVILLE — The Camels, the No. 3 seed, were leading the second-seeded Wolfpack by a run after 8½ innings Friday afternoon when play was halted. After a weather delay that lasted over five hours, tournament officials announced that the game would resume Saturday at noon.
The scheduled Friday night game between No. 1 seed East Carolina and No. 4 seed Quinnipiac will now take place Saturday at 4 p.m.
Campbell had taken a 4-0 lead in the first inning thanks in part to a two-run homer from Koby Collins. NC State closed the gap with three runs in the third. Campbell extended the lead to 5-3 in the fourth before Jonny Butler’s solo shot in the eighth made it 5-4.
Duke 8, Texas A&M 5
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Erikson Nichols and Rudy Maxwell each hit three-run homers Friday and the Blue Devils held on to beat the Aggies.
Third-seeded Duke (32-25) is looking to reach the super regionals for the second straight year after capturing the regional last year in Athens, Ga.
Blue Devils’ starter Ben Gross (7-4) allowed one run and scattered four hits over seven innings. Second-seeded Texas A&M (37-22-1) scored four times in the ninth, but Ty Condel grounded out with two runners on base to end it.
Six of Duke’s 11 hits went for extra bases. Nichols and Kyle Gallagher each had three hits.
Nichols homered during a four-run fourth inning off Texas A&M starter John Doxakis (7-4).
Duke added four runs in the eighth. Michael Rothenberg doubled and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Bryce Miller. Maxwell, a freshman, then hit a pinch-hit homer off Joseph Menefee.