UNC Blasts NC State; Wins 8th ACC Championship

UNC Blasts NC State;  Wins 8th ACC Championship

Vance Honeycutt hit two home runs in the ACC title game.(Photo: Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina)

CHARLOTTE, NC – No. 8 seed North Carolina scored six runs in the second inning before coasting to a 9-5 victory over rival NC State in the 2022 ACC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon at Truist Field.

UNC (38-19) won its eighth ACC Tournament title, its second since 2019 and the first for second-year head coach Scott Forbes. The Tar Heels have won 15 of their last 17 games.

The Wolfpack struck first with Josh Hood’s RBI single in the top of the first inning. UNC promptly answered in the bottom half of the inning as Vance Honeycutt blasted a two-run home run to left field. The Tar Heels blew the game open in the second inning as Angel Zarate scored two runs on an RBI single followed by Danny Serretti’s RBI double down the right field line. In the next at-bat, Honeycutt stamped his signature on this ACC Tournament with a three-run homer to push UNC’s lead to 8-1. Mac Horvath scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

JT Jarrett scored two runs on his RBI double in the sixth inning to cut NC State’s deficit to 9-3 and then Devonte Brown and LuJames Groover added RBI singles in the ninth to finalize the scoring.

Max Carlson (3-2) picked up his second win in the ACC Tournament in allowing three earned runs and six hits in 5.0 innings.

Serving MVP
Honeycutt set the UNC freshman record for home runs in a season (19) with a pair of homers against Virginia Tech and then knocked two more out of the park in the biggest game of the season. The freshman centerfielder has found his rhythm at the plate at just the right time, hitting 11 home runs in his last 15 games.

In four ACC Tournament games, Honeycutt hit .400 with 10 RBI en route to MVP honors.

Dominance in Queen City
The Tar Heels were elite in the four-game charge through the ACC Tournament, outscoring their opponents, 35-9. Three of the four games were laughers as UNC led by six or more runs through four innings. The Tar Heel bats hit .324 on the week and tallied 19 extra base hits in averaging 8.8 runs per game. UNC’s pitchers allowed five extra base hits in 36 innings of work and held their opponents to a .185 batting average with runners in scoring position.

NC State Title Streak Continues
The Wolfpack were seeking to snap one of the most infamous streaks in college athletics: 29 consecutive years without an ACC regular season or tournament title in football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball. Instead, NC State’s hopes were all but shattered by the end of the second inning. That streak now extends to 30 years.

NC State head coach Elliott Avent fell to 0-7 in ACC Championship Game appearances.

Postseason Implications
Four weeks ago, UNC was not only on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, but also in danger of missing the ACC Tournament with its 8-13 conference record. The Tar Heels have since won 15 of their last 17 games and likely clinched a regional host in the NCAA Tournament with their run through the ACC Tournament. With UNC now ranked top-5 nationally in RPI with 20 Q1 victories – second only to No. 1 Tennessee’s 21 Q1 wins – Forbes’ squad is in contention for the program’s first national seed since 2018.

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UNC will learn its regional competition during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday at noon (ESPN2).

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