Virginia Tech Baseball No Match For No. 15 North Carolina In 8-1 Loss

Virginia Tech struggled at North Carolina on Friday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

With just five hits and 12 strikeouts offensively and an early blitz from No. 15 North Carolina’s lineup, Virginia Tech was overmatched by the Tar Heels in an 8-1 loss on Friday night at Boshamer Stadium.

UNC’s (32-10, 16-6 ACC) freshman phenom Jason DeCaro tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters, while his offense gave him a hefty cushion to shut down the Hokies (26-13, 12-10) all night long.

DeCaro retired the first 11 batters he faced, making light work of the Tech lineup. Of his 105 pitches, only 64 were strikes, but he pounded the zone when he needed to and recorded timely outs for a rather efficient and excellent outing.

The Tar Heels got out to an early 8-0 lead by scoring in four of the first five innings, punctuated by a three-run third frame in which they roughed up Hokies starter Jeremy Neff, who made his second consecutive Friday start. A strange sequence where a pitch clock violation — which led to Tech head coach John Szefc and pitching coach Ryan Fecteau coming out of the dugout and vehemently pleading their case — led to a three-run home run from Parks Harber to blow the game open, and UNC did not look back from there.

In his three innings of work, the Richmond transfer gave up six runs on six hits and a walk without recording a strikeout.

Despite that, Tech only tossed one other arm: Chapman transfer Grant Manning, who ate up valuable innings with perhaps his best outing of the season. The 6-foot-6 righty pitched five great innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits and four walks while striking out a season-high eight batters. He got into a couple of jams, but came through in those spots, stranding the bases loaded twice.

Carolina wasn’t as effective as it could have been offensively, hitting just 5-for-17 with runners aboard and 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, but it didn’t need to be considering how well it pitched and the early lead that it was able to sustain.

The Hokies only registered five knocks on the night — none of which came with runners aboard — and worked just two walks, narrowly avoiding a shutout thanks to Carson DeMartini’s one-out solo home run in the top of the ninth.

It was DeMartini’s 18th home run of the season and the 43rd of his career, setting a new career-high for a Hokies batter since the program joined the ACC in 2005.

That was the only baserunner and run given up by Tar Heel reliever Dalton Pence, who tossed the final two innings of the ballgame with four strikeouts — 21 of his 26 pitches found the zone.

The loss takes away Tech’s ability to clinch a spot in the 2024 ACC Baseball Championship until its next league series in two weeks against Miami. It’s also the team’s eighth loss in its last 10 conference games; it’s lost those games by a combined 39 runs.

The Hokies will try to right the ship in game two of the three-game set on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra with freshman ace Brett Renfrow (3-1, 3.50 ERA in 54 innings) getting the ball. If the Tar Heels come away with the win, it’ll be Tech’s fourth consecutive ACC series loss after winning its first four of the season.

Box Score: No. 15 North Carolina 8, Virginia Tech 1