DURHAM — Just when it seemed as though rivals North Carolina and NC State were on a collision course for an ACC baseball tournament title showdown, Georgia Tech stepped in and spoiled the party.
The Tar Heels held up their end of the bargain by beating upstart Boston College 13-5 in Saturday’s first semifinal at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. But the Yellow Jackets denied the Wolfpack its spot in the final by handing it a convincing 9-2 defeat.
UNC and Tech will face off for the championship Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here’s how they got there:
UNC 13, Boston College 5
After two close calls during pool play, both in extra innings, the Tar Heels broke out their big bats to end the surprising run of the 12th-seeded Eagles. Michael Busch had four hits, including a two-run homer, to pace the 13-hit attack.
UNC (41-17) built a 7-1 until BC Boston College (31-27) scored four times in the sixth to make things interesting. But the Tar Heels responded quickly by scoring three runs in its half of the inning and three more in the eighth to break the game open.
The Eagles used seven pitchers. John Witkowski took the loss. BC (31-27) upset Clemson and top-seeded Louisville in pool play to reach the semifinals..
Danny Serretti had two hits and three RBI for the Tar Heels while Ike Freeman and Dallas Tessar each drove in a pair of runs. Tessar’s bases-loaded single in the sixth doubled his RBI total for the season.
Hansen Butler, who saved the Tar Heels’ victory against Miami on Friday, worked 1⅓ innings and was awarded the victory.
“We knew we were going to battle the whole game,” Busch said of BC. “When they came back with that 4-spot … we just stick to our routine, stick to our plan, not try and do too much, and we happened to get three runs that inning, which was huge.”.
Georgia Tech 9, NC State 2
Coach Elliott Avent and his players downplayed Friday’s 11-0 loss to Florida State as meaningless, since it had no bearing on their advancing to the semifinals. But State’s offensive problems in that game carried over to Saturday.
The Wolfpack managed only six hits against three Yellow Jackets pitchers in extending its school’s dubious streak to 27 years without an ACC championship in baseball, football or men’s basketball.
Tech’s Michael Gulberg played a major role in continuing that futility by hitting a three-run homer, his first home run of the season.
Guldberg’s home run broke a 1-all tie and came after Nick Wilhite singled with two outs and Luke Waddell walked. Tristin English also homered for 41-16 Georgia Tech, a solo shot in the second.
Baron Radcliff and Wilhite added two-run hits in a five-run eighth.
Third-seeded State (42-17) scored its runs in the third and the ninth on RBI from Patrick Bailey and Will Wilson.
“We probably faced some of the best (pitching) we have all year and we had an opportunity both nights and didn’t get it done,” Bailey said of the back-to-back losses that ended the Wolfpack’s tournament in disappointment. “It’s baseball. We’ve got to be better.”