Stars old and new lift UNC to second straight baseball series sweep

ECU also swept its series, while NC State and Duke took two of three from their opponents and UNCW got swept at Ole Miss in weekend state college baseball action

UNC Athletic Communications photo—UNC Athletic Communications photo
Freshman Luca Dalatri struck out 15 over seven innings to lead UNC to a victory against Radford on Sunday

An established star and a rising star helped North Carolina complete its second straight series sweep of the young baseball season this weekend. Preseason All-American Brian Miller got things started on Friday by hitting a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to break up a scoreless duel and give the Tar Heels a 2-0 victory against Radford. Ace J.B. Bukauskas pitched the first seven innings and Josh Hiatt finished things off for his NCAA-leading fourth save. After a 9-3 win on Saturday behind four RBI from Kyle Datres and three hits from Ashton McGee in his first career start, UNC (7-0) turned to freshman Luca Dalatri to finish off the sweep of the Highlanders. Part of the reason the Tar Heels missed the NCAA tournament for the second straight season last year was their troubles on Sunday. They lost seven of their last nine in the final game of a series. But Dalatri could be the solution to that problem. After winning his first career start last Sunday, the young right-hander struck out 15 Radford hitters and didn’t walk anyone over eight innings this time in a 7-5 win. The 15 strikeouts are the most by a UNC pitcher since Matt Harvey fanned 15 against Clemson in 2010 and helped earn Dalatri the ACC’s co-Pitcher of the Week award. The Tar Heels weren’t the only state team to post an unbeaten weekend. In Greenville, East Carolina bounced back from a season opening sweep at Ole Miss by taking three straight from LaSalle. The Pirates (4-3) took the first game 7-3 on Friday by scoring four times in the bottom of the eighth before a crowd of 4,003, the third-highest opening day attendance in the history of Clark-LeClair Stadium. T.J. Riles keyed the decisive late inning rally with an RBI single that scored Charlie Yorgen. ECU jumped out to an early five-run lead on Saturday behind homers from Luke Bolka, Eric Tyler and Travis Watkins and never looked back on the way to an 8-4 win before turning to its own freshman right-hander for an impressive Sunday start. Trey Benton struck out 10 over five scoreless innings while Tyler had a pair of hits and three RBI in a 12-1 victory against the winless Explorers. Benton became the first ECU freshman to reach double-figure strikeouts in a game since Davis Kirkpatrick had 10 against High Point three seasons ago. While UNC and ECU were in the process of going three-for-three this weekend, UNC Wilmington was on the other end of a sweep. Just as the Pirates did a week earlier, the Seahawks came home from Ole Miss without a victory, losing 7-4 on Friday, 8-4 on Saturday and 8-6 on Sunday. The middle game was the most frustrating. UNCW (3-3) took the lead in the top of the eighth on a three-run homer by preseason All-American Nick Feight. But the Rebels answered right back with five runs of their own in the bottom of the inning against reliever Austin Magestro to take the victory. On Sunday, the Seahawks scored five times in their final two at bats — including a four-run ninth — only to fall two runs short. NC State improved to 4-2 on the season with its second series win in as many weeks. Coach Elliott Avent’s Wolfpack returned from Hawaii to beat Austin Peay 9-3 behind a second strong start in a row by Sean Adler. The senior struck out a career-high 10 and was backed by an offense led by the four-hit performance of Brock Deatherage to earn the victory. Shortstop Joe Dunand homered and reshman Mathieu Gauthier won his first career decision in relief as State won 6-3 on Saturday before the Governors salvaged the final game of the weekend by scoring four times in the eighth to beat the Wolfpack 7-3.Wake Forest also had a productive weekend against Southern Cal, thanks to the hot bat of Gavin Sheets. The junior first baseman earned ACC Player of the Week and national Player of the Week honors by hitting .588 (10 for 17) with three homers, two doubles and 16 RBI in helping the Deacons win two of three from the Trojans.Sheets tied a program record with three homers and nine RBI in Friday’s 15-5 victory and added two more three-hit games in Saturday’s 15-9 loss and Sunday’s 18-5 win. He hit .769 for the series to raise his batting average from .105 to .375.Like State and Wake, Duke also won two of three this weekend, including a 5-1 series-clinching victory against Army behind six strong innings from starting pitcher Ryan Day. Jack Labosky led the offense with an RBI double, then came in to get the final three outs on the mound. Duke (3-4) also won on Friday, getting homers from Labosky and Ju