CHARLOTTE, N.C. (theACC.com) – Less than a month ago, some speculated that North Carolina’s chance of making this year’s NCAA baseball tournament might be in jeopardy.
Less than a week from now, the Tar Heels will enter that tournament as Atlantic Coast Conference champions.
Freshman Vance Honeycutt homered twice and drove in five runs to lead eighth-seeded UNC to a 9-5 win over No. 10 seed NC State in Sunday’s ACC Baseball Championship title game. A sellout crowd of 10,500 packed Truist Field to watch the battle between long-time rivals, setting the record for the largest title-game attendance in league history.
The Tar Heels (38-19) won for the 15th time in their last 17 games while capturing the 12th ACC baseball title in program history overall and the eighth since the conference began holding a tournament to determine its champion in 1973.
The ACC championship is UNC’s first under second-year head coach Scott Forbes, who stepped up to take the reins following veteran Mike Fox’s retirement in the summer of 2020.
Honeycutt, who was voted the tournament MVP, connected for a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning, and then followed with a three-run shot to cap the big second inning at the Tar Heels built a quick 8-1 lead.
The home runs were Honeycutt’s 20th and 21st of the season, adding to what was already a school freshman record. The Salisbury, North Carolina, native became only the second player in NCAA Division I this season and the first player in UNC history with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same year.
Angel Zarate finished 2-for-5 at the plate for the Tar Heels and contributed a two-run single to the second-inning uprising. Danny Serretti added a pair of hits, including an RBI double.
UNC starter Max Carlson (3-2) worked five innings to pick up his second win of the tournament. The sophomore righthander allowed six hits and three runs while walking one batter and striking out six.
UNC led 9-1 before the Wolfpack (36-21) scrapped for two runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth for the final 9-5 margin. NC State outhit the Tar Heels 11-8 as Devonte Brown and LuJames Groover III each went 3-for-5 from the top of the order.
With three wins in the ACC Baseball Championship this week prior to Sunday, the Wolfpack has significantly padded its resume as it awaits Monday’s NCAA tournament pairings announcement (noon, ESPN2). Eleven ACC teams ranked among the top 35 of the latest RPI released Sunday morning, including three among the top six.
The attendance for Sunday’s game stands as the second-largest to watch a college baseball game, in the state of North Carolina, topped only by the 11,392 that watched UNC’s 2-1, 18-inning win over NC State on the fourth day of the 2013 ACC Championship at Durham, North Carolina.
The previous high attendance for an ACC Championship title game prior to Sunday was the 9,759 that watched Florida State defeat NC State in 2015 at Durham.
Honeycutt’s two home runs on Sunday added to the record set this week for total home runs in an ACC Baseball Championship. The teams hit 54 homers in 15 games, topping the previous record of 51 set in 2010 (in 13 games) at Greensboro, North Carolina.
2022 ACCBASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
May 24-29 at Truist Field, Charlotte, N.C.
POOL A – #1 Virginia Tech, #8 North Carolina, #12 Clemson
POOL B – #2 Louisville, #7 Georgia Tech, #11 Pitt
POOL C – #3 Miami, #6 Wake Forest, #10 NC State
POOL D – #4 Notre Dame, #5 Virginia, #9 Florida State
Tuesday, May 24
No. 11 Pitt 12, No. 7 Georgia Tech 6
No. 10 NC State 11, No. 6 Wake Forest 8
No. 8 North Carolina 9, No. 12 Clemson 2
Wednesday, May 25
No. 11 Pitt 6, No. 2 Louisville 5
No. 9 Florida State 13, No. 5 Virginia 3 (8 innings)
No. 10 NC State 9, Miami 6
Thursday, May 26
No. 7 Georgia Tech 9, No. 2 Louisville 4
No. 4 Notre Dame 5, No. 9 Florida State 3
No. 1 Virginia Tech 18, No. 12 Clemson 6
Friday, May 27
No. 4 Notre Dame 3, No. 5 Virginia 0
No. 6 Wake Forest 16, No. 3 Miami 3
No. 8 North Carolina 10, No. 1 Virginia Tech 0
Saturday, May 28
No. 8 North Carolina 7, No. 4 Notre Dame 2
No. 10 NC State 8, No. 11 Pitt 3
Sunday, May 29
No. 8 North Carolina 9, No. 10 NC State 5