Rivalries, series sweeps highlight state college baseball weekend

Two intense rivalries were renewed on state baseball diamonds this weekend as North Carolina and NC State battled in Chapel Hill and NC A&T celebrated Easter with three down-the-wire games against NC Central in Greensboro.

NC A&T Sports Information photo—NC A&T Sports Information photo
Adan Ordonez scores the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give NC A&T an 8-7 victory in the first game of an MEACdoubleheader against rival NC Central on Friday

Two intense rivalries were renewed on state baseball diamonds this weekend as North Carolina and NC State battled in Chapel Hill and NC A&T celebrated Easter with three down-the-wire games against NC Central in Greensboro. The fourth-ranked Tar Heels came into the weekend as the ACC’s hottest team and they stayed that way with victories on Friday and Saturday to extend their winning streak to 11 games. Kyle Datres and Cody Roberts each had two-run homers and Logan Warmoth added four hits to back ace J.B,. Bukauskas’ sixth win of the season in UNC’s 7-2 win in the series opener while freshman Luca Dalatri shut down the Wolfpack and Brandon Riley keyed the offensive with an RBI triple in Saturday’s 7-1 triumph. Each of the first two games of the series were closer than the scores indicated, with the Tar Heels (29-7, 14-4 ACC) accounting for 11 of their 14 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. State (20-17, 8-10) finally reversed the trend on Sunday as Johnny Piedmonte came out of the bullpen to pitch five scoreless innings and salvage a 4-2 victory and secure the 999th career win of coach Elliott Avent’s career. Brock Deatherage homered to highlight the Wolfpack’s offense. In Greensboro, A&T won all three games against its in-state MEAC rival, but it wasn’t easy. Both of the Aggies victories in a Friday doubleheader were of the walkoff variety. Kyle Clary, who tied the first game 8-7 with a homer in the eighth, won it an inning later with an RBI single. In the seven-inning nightcap, Adan Ordonez’s RBI single scored Brandon Melendez to tie the game before Myles Sowell walked home on a balk for the deciding run in a 4-3 win. A&T (20-14, 10-5 MEAC) won Saturday’s final game 5-2 behind a two-homer performance from Clary, but had to survive a ninth-inning rally that saw the Eagles bring the tying run to the plate before finally falling shot. Conrad Kovalcik had a home run for Central (16-21, 7-8). The Aggies weren’t the only team from the Triad to go unbeaten this weekend. Wake Forest (28-10, 12-6) combined some strong pitching with the hot bat of ACC Player of the Week Stuart Fairchild to win three straight against Notre Dame. Fairchild had an RBI double in a four-run first inning to back ace Parker Dunshee’s seventh win in Friday’s 4-3 victory. Fairchild had a homer and two doubles while Gavin Sheets went 3 for 5 with a pair of homers and a double in Saturday’s 13-7 win. The 20th-ranked Deacons then finish off the Irish with a 5-1 win that saw Connor Johnstone strike out a career high seven and the trio of Fairchild, Johnny Aiello and Jonathan Pryor each contributing two hits and homers.Fairchild hit .500 with 14 RBI, 11 hits, nine runs, four home runs, and three doubles for the week to lead Wake to a perfect 5-0 record. In a midweek 19-9 win against defending national champion Coastal Carolina, he went 3-for-5 with seven RBIs and two home runs.In Wilmington, UNC Wilmington (16-18, 5-4 CAA) continued its climb back to the .500 mark by sweeping its CAA series against James Madison. Alex Royalty struck out 10 and Nick Feight had three hits and two RBI for a 6-2 win Friday, Mason Berene had a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth and Casey Golden came a triple away from the cycle in Saturday’s 7-5 victory while Zarion Sharpe became the first Seahawk freshman to pitch a complete game in a 4-1 win on Sunday. Charlotte (20-16, 9-6 CUSA) also went 3-0 in a weekend series at Western Kentucky, winning two of the three in extra innings. Brett Netzer scored the go-ahead run when Jackson Mims’ bunt was mishandled in the top of the 12th Thursday, then Logan Sherer drove in his third run of the game to give the 49ers a 6-4 victory. On Saturday, Mims’ homer in the top of the 11th was the decisive run an a 3-1 victory while sandwiched in between, Harris Yett and T.J. Nichting drove in three runs each while Zach Jarrett allowed only four hits in seven innings on the mound in a 16-5 Charlotte victory. The news wasn’t as positive in Greenville as East Carolina was swept for the third straight weekend to fall to 0-9 in the American Athletic Conference. The first two losses were heartbreaking, as the Pirates (19-18) squandered a 7-1 lead after four innings on Thursday and were one strike away from winning when the Dukes scored the tying and winning runs. Charlie Yorgen had a three-run homer in the game. On Friday, ECU led 2-0 in the seventh on an RBI single from Eric Tyler and a Travis Watkins homer before allowing JMU to score nine runs in the