Chapel Hill, NC - Fourth-ranked Florida State (39-12, 19-8) fought back after being down four runs but could not complete the comeback on Sunday afternoon falling to North Carolina (30-21, 14-13) in the series finale 5-4 inside Boshamer Stadium.
The Seminoles trailed by four runs after four innings of play but evened the game at 4-4 after scoring three runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth. UNC’s Tyler Ramirez gave the Tar Heels the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out RBI single to right to score Parks Jordan for the eventual game-winning run.
“It was just one of those games that we are just very pleased with the fight of our guys,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “We didn’t have a lot of opportunities from the fifth inning on to get anything going, but I was just very pleased with the fight that we showed to get back in the ballgame after being behind by four. Tip your hat to North Carolina, they deserved to win, they did a good job.”
Reilly Hovis, who entered the ballgame with one out in the fifth, threw the final 4.1 innings to pick up the win and improve to 7-1 on the year. The sophomore right hander allowed a run on three hits as he walked one and struck out eight.
Gage Smith suffered the loss as he fell to 4-2. The senior right hander had retired seven straight hitters upon entering the game in the bottom of the fifth before Jordan reached on an infield single in the seventh. Landon Lassiter followed with a single to center, while a fly out to center by Skye Bolt moved Jordan to third. Ramirez then gave the Tar Heels the lead for good on his RBI single to right.
North Carolina looked to add more in the inning, but an outstanding play by Smith on a bunt by Alex Raburn out in front of the mound ended the inning. The Tar Heel second baseman was looking to add to the UNC lead by laying down a bunt toward third base, but Smith pounced on the ball and threw to Danny De La Calle at the plate to get Lassiter for the final out.
“Gage was great, he pitched super,” said Martin. “He made all the pitches; you just have to credit the left hander that got the big base hit. He did not have a good swing the first time, but yet turned around, made an adjustment and did a great job of getting the key base hit for them.”
Florida State got a single by Casey Smit in the eighth and another single by John Sansone in the ninth but the Seminoles could not get either of them past first base as FSU dropped just its second one-run contest in 11 games this year.
De La Calle paced the Seminole offense on Sunday with a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. Josh Delph had a run scoring single in the fifth.
UNC grabbed the early lead on Sunday scoring three runs in the first two innings off FSU starter Dylan Silva. The Tar Heels took advantage of a walk and a throwing error to plate a run in the first.
In the second, Tom Zengel recorded an RBI double to right as Raburn scored all the way from first after reaching on a walk. Zengel would score two batters later on a two-out bloop single to center by Korey Dunbar as the Tar Heels took a 3-0 advantage.
Silva, who earned his first career start on Sunday, was charged with three runs, two earned, on two hits as he walked two and struck out two in 1.2 innings of work.
The Tar Heels added to their lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Jordan. Adam Pate drew a walk off Billy Strode to open the inning, moved to second on a sac-bunt by Dunbar and scored on Jordan’s base hit back up the middle as UNC pushed its lead to 4-0.
Florida State broke through for three runs in the top of the fifth off UNC starter Zac Gallen to cut the deficit to 4-3. All three runs came on two outs as De La Calle began the three-run rally with a single back up the middle scoring Brett Knief from second.
After a UNC pitching change brought on Hovis, Delph battled to work the count full before lacing a single to center that drove in Justin Gonzalez. De La Calle also scored on the play as the throw from center was not fielded cleanly by Lassiter at third.
The Seminoles tied the game at four without collecting a hit in the sixth. Hank Truluck, who entered the game in the bottom fifth, reached after getting hit on the arm by Hovis. The Ocala, Fla., native then swiped second, moved to third on a groundout by Knief and scored on a wild pitch to even the game at four runs apiece.
Florida State returns home for the final four games of the regular season as the Seminoles host UCF on Tuesday, May 13 before welcoming the Duke Blue Devils for a three-game series. Tuesday’s game against the Knights is Fan Appreciation Day at the ballpark with free admission for the 1:00 p.m. ballgame.
Audio for the game will be available on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM. As always, fans can receive in-game updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball. Also, do not forget to like the Seminole Baseball team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball and to follow the team on Instagram (NoleBaseball). Live stats will be available via gametracker.