UNC powers past Georgia Tech for ACC tournament title

The Tar Heels and East Carolina were chosen to host regionals in next week's NCAA tournament

Brandon Martorano and UNC teammate Ashton McGee (5) celebrate McGee's home run during Sunday's ACC baseball tournament championship game (Sara D. Davis/The ACC)

DURHAM (AP) — North Carolina’s parade of pitchers kept trying to outdo one another. The hitters kept swinging for the fences.

It added up to another ACC championship for the Tar Heels.

UNC hit four home runs — including a pair during a four-run sixth inning — and its pitchers combined on a four-hitter in a 10-2 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday in the league title game. The victory helped UNC earn selection as one of 16 regional seeds for next week’s NCAA tournament.

East Carolina was also chosen as a host. The remainder of the NCAA field will be announced on Monday.

Aaron Sabato and Ashton McGee each hit two-run homers during the Tar Heels’ big sixth inning, tournament MVP Michael Busch added a solo homer in the seventh and Brandon Martorano hit a three-run shot in the ninth.

“When we made mistakes,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said, “they made us pay.”

The fifth-seeded Tar Heels (42-17) regrouped to finish the tournament 4-0 and earn their seventh ACC title, their third since 2007.

“It’s hard to win a championship in this league in any sport,” UNC coach Mike Fox said, “but certainly in baseball.”

After losing three of their final five regular-season games, the Tar Heels found their groove this week in nearby Durham. They needed extra innings to win both their games in pool play, then won two games in the four-team, single-elimination bracket by a combined 23-7.

Pitcher Hansen Butler “sent us a message that night, and he pretty much said, ‘Take all this in, try and remember what happened to us, but tomorrow we’re going to get back to work,'” Busch said. “The faster that you can regroup, the better your team is going to be. We regrouped the next day … and it showed this week.”

The second-seeded Yellow Jackets (41-17) had just three hits and five baserunners after the first inning. They had their three-game winning streak snapped and were denied their 10th league title.

“We needed to win four in a row. We won three in a row,” first baseman Tristin English said. “We’re kind of building off the chip on our shoulder. … We felt snubbed in the beginning, and we’ll see how Selection Monday plays out for us.”

Busch led off the sixth with a bunt single off reliever Luke Bartnicki. Sabato followed with his drive that carried over the fence in right-center for his 14th homer of the season, moving him to within one of the school record for freshmen.

Danny Serretti chased Bartnicki with a single to left, and two batters later, McGee launched a homer off Jake Lee to the same seating section of the Triple-A Durham Bulls’ ballpark to put UNC up 5-1.

Butler (4-0), working for the third straight day, struck out two and walked two in 2 2/3 innings of relief of starter Connor Ollio.

“Everyone just wanted to keep it rolling, and that’s really big on days like staff days when pitchers are pitching how they are,” reliever Joey Lancellotti said.

Bartnicki (2-2) allowed hits to four of the six hitters he faced for Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the third, with Jackson Webb scoring easily from third after Martorano’s pickoff throw kicked past Ike Freeman.

“We just didn’t have any answers for them,” Hall said. “Butler and Lancellotti just kept us off stride, and obviously, their home runs were big. Hitting those home runs, no defense for them.”