UNC baseball team knocks off VCU, advances to Super Regional

North Carolina coach Scott Forbes and his players pay tribute to fans following their 7-3 win over VCU on Monday, June 6, 2022 as they won their NCAA Regional Championship at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC

North Carolina coach Scott Forbes and his players pay tribute to fans following their 7-3 win over VCU on Monday, June 6, 2022 as they won their NCAA Regional Championship at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC

rwillett@newsobserver.com

The University of North Carolina baseball team ended its hot run through the losers bracket of the Chapel Hill Regional League with a 7-3 win over VCU on Monday, returning to the NCAA Super Regional Round for the first time since 2019 and the 10th time school history.

The Rams (42-20) beat the Tar Heels on Saturday, but the Tar Heels then won three straight games – including two against VCU – to advance.

North Carolina (42-20) improves to 7-2 all-time in eliminations in the Chapel Hill area. They are now 33-6 as regional hosts. UNC has won 14 Regionals. The Tar Heels await the Arkansas-Oklahoma State winner in the Stillwater Regional.

If the Razorbacks win, UNC will host the Super Regional starting June 10th. They won the Chapel Hill Regional round to a capacity crowd at Boshamer Stadium.

Head coach Scott Forbes was back at the stadium for the first time in two games, returning from a two-game suspension. Forbes was handed a two-game suspension for arguing at length over a phone call on Saturday.

He must have been amazed by what he saw upon his return. Carolina hit 16 home runs in the regional round, including two on Monday. The Heels have hit 100 home runs this season.

For the second straight game, North Carolina got off to a hot start in the first inning. After recording seven runs in Game 2 on Sunday, they got four against the Rams on Monday.

Alberto Osuna rode a single in one run. That set the stage for Mikey Madej, one of the hottest bats in the regional circuit. Madej hit his fourth home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field. The Tar Heels ended the first with a 4-0 lead.

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North Carolina’s Angel Karate (40) celebrates with teammate Mikey Madej (2) after a 3-RBI home run by Madej in the first inning to give the Tar Heels a 4-0 lead in the first inning against VCU on Monday, June To get VCU January 2022 during the NCAA Regional Championship at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

VCU countered with a run into the bottom of the first when Ben Nippolt came home after picking a fielder.

Osuna rode on top of third in another run, scoring Vance Honeycutt for a 5-1 UNC advantage.

Brandon Schaeffer started on the mound for UNC, going 3.2 innings, giving up six hits and three runs and knocking out five. He was replaced by Gage Gillian at the bottom of fourth after the Rams cut the lead to four.

Jacob Selden and Marcus O’Malley were each in runs from Schaeffer before the change. Gillian was doing his job when the first batsman he faced, Nippolt, jumped out leaving a runner. VCU seemed to pick up some steam, at least defensively, forcing UNC to go three up and three down into the top of fifth.

The Carolina defense got that momentum back. First he forced a double game in the field, then Schaeffer knocked out Connor Hujsak.

Gillian earned the win, going 4.1 innings, giving up no runs on one hit and knocking out four.

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North Carolina pitcher Gage Gillian (15) works from the hill in the sixth inning against VCU on Monday, June 6, 2022 during the NCAA Regional Championship at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC

VCU rolled down to Chapel Hill as one of the hottest teams in the country, riding a 17-game winning streak. The Tar Heels ended the Rams season with their first consecutive losses since April 24-26.

In April, Carolina went in a different direction after being swept by UVA and prevailed 8-12 in the ACC game. The Heels turned things around with a 2-1 series win over NC State and didn’t drop another ACC series the rest of the way. They swept FSU to the end of the regular season and stormed through the ACC tournament.

Now Carolina, winner of 18 of his last 21, sits a three-game win streak away from a trip to Omaha for the first time since 2018.

This story was originally published June 6, 2022 9:01 p.m.

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Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV has covered college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central, NC State and the ACC for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.

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