Durham, NC—-North Carolina couldn’t stop the hot hitting of the Clemson Tigers baseball team on Saturday afternoon.
The third-seeded Tigers beat the seventh-seed Tar Heels 10-4 in the ACC Tournament semifinals at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, running their winning streak to 15 straight games, denying UNC the chance to repeat as tournament champion.
In the sixth inning, catcher Tomas Frick hit a solo homer, which he went yard 10 times during the regular season. And in the ninth inning, he blasted his second home run the left the park quickly.
“At this ballpark especially, you’re just a couple of runners on or a couple of swings away from getting back into it,” Frick said.
Not only is he the second on the team in batting average for the Tar Heels this season, but he has caught 467 balls and managed only three errors as a the back stopper.
After taking tough losses to the Clemson Tigers during their series matchup in South Carolina last week, UNC struggled offensively against Clemson again on Saturday in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
UNC (35-22), after rolling past Georgia Tech and Virginia during the pool play portion of the tournament this week, is left to await its NCAA Tournament assignment. The 64-team field team will be unveiled at noon Monday on ESPN2. The Tar Heels, who check in 27th in the RPI rankings, project in the No. 2 seed range this season, after playing host to the NCAA regional and super regional rounds last year.
“Just a mature kid, special kid, obviously, in my book,” Forbes said. “I’ve known Tomas a long time. I recruited him way back — saw him at the Bosh — when he was really young. He has done the work like nobody else and is reaping that.”
This game was real personal for many reasons, as it determined whether UNC could change their fate against the Tigers this season, but also because old hometown friends were playing against one another.
Clemson’s starting pitcher Caden Grice, Frick, and UNC designated hitter Alberto Osuna are all from Greenville, S.C. When Grice spoke about the two home runs that were hit off of him — one from Osuna and one from Frick — he just smiled.
“Both of the guys who hit them were my hometown buddies, Tomas Frick and Alberto Osuna, both Greenville boys,” Grice said. “It was bittersweet. It was nice to see them do good, but off me, it was a little bit different.”
Clemson took a 5-0 after seven batters in the bottom of the first inning — wasting no time in roughing up Carolina starting pitcher Connor Bovair — and led 8-1 after three innings, on the way to securing its 20th victory across the last 21 games. Nationally only Oral Roberts, which entered Saturday riding 17 consecutive wins, has been hotter than the Tigers (42-17), who’ll meet fourth-seeded Miami here on Sunday in the ACC championship game.
“When you get behind against a team that’s that hot, you’ve got your work cut out for you,” UNC coach Scott Forbes said. “But I was proud of how our guys kept playing. You have to tip your hat to Clemson, they’re playing extremely well. They can hit you from all different areas.”
UNC had five hits on the afternoon, with the top of their lineup quiet again, similar to how their 10-2 shellacking of second-seeded Virginia unfolded on Thursday. Casey Cook, Mac Horvath and Jackson Van De Brake, the first three hitters for UNC, finished a combined 0-for-12 on Saturday. Grice (8-1) worked seven innings, while scattering four hits, issuing just one walk and striking out nine Tar Heels. He threw 93 pitches.
“He’s got that tough angle and the fastball plays up,” Forbes said of Grice. “I do think he’s one of the top pitchers in our league, and one of the top pitchers in the country right now, because he can give and take with that off-speed (stuff). He has that changeup and also the big breaking ball. So we knew we’d have our work cut out for us. I thought going in, if we were going to win, it would be a 4-3, 5-4 type of game and we got to four (runs), but we just couldn’t hold Clemson down.”
2023 ACC BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Durham Bulls Athletic Park (Durham, N.C.)
POOL A – #1 seed Wake Forest, #8 Notre Dame, #12 Pittsburgh
POOL B – #2 seed Virginia, #7 North Carolina, #11 Georgia Tech
POOL C – #3 seed Clemson, #6 Boston College, #10 Virginia Tech
POOL D – #4 seed Miami, #5 Duke, #9 NC State
Tuesday, May 23
Boston College 11, Virginia Tech 7
North Carolina 11, Georgia Tech 5
NC State 8, Duke 7, 11 innings
Wednesday, May 24
Pitt 9, Notre Dame 5
Virginia 15, Georgia Tech 1
Clemson 14, Virginia Tech 5
Thursday, May 25
Wake Forest 10, Pitt 2
North Carolina 10, Virginia 2
Miami 4, NC State 2
Friday, May 26
Clemson 4, Boston College 1
Miami 7, Duke 6
Wake Forest 7, Notre Dame 5
Saturday, May 27
Miami 7, Wake Forest 2
Clemson 10, North Carolina 4
Sunday, May 28
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 4 Miami, noon (ESPN2)