Tar Heels blank Hokies, advance to ACC baseball semifinals

North Carolina ousts top-seeded Virginia Tech to advance in the ACC baseball tournament. (University of North Carolina/ACC)

charlotte, NC –  Typifying an Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship in which the unexpected has become the norm, eighth-seeded North Carolina shoved its way into the semifinals with a 10-0 rout of top-seeded Virginia Tech on Friday night.

Tar Heel pitcher Brandon Schaeffer quieted the Hokies’ fearsome bats with his first career complete game, and freshman Vance Honeycutt homered twice to lead a 16-hit attack as UNC won for the 13th time in its last 15 games.

The Tar Heels (36-19) earned a spot in Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal versus No. 4 seed Notre Dame – the top seed remaining in this year’s tournament field. The second semifinal at 5 p.m. will pit No. 10 NC State against No. 11 Pitt, marking the first time in Championship history that two teams seeded 10th or lower have met head-to-head.

Saturday’s winners will meet at noon on Sunday at Truist Field for the ACC title.

Both tournament semifinal games will air on ACC Network, while ESPN2 will carry Sunday’s championship game.

Schaeffer (7-2) entered the game with a 4.15 ERA, but the UNC junior lefthander frustrated a Virginia Tech offense that has hit 108 home runs this season and scored 18 runs in its tournament opener versus Clemson on Thursday evening.

The Hokies mustered only six hits on Friday night, one shy of their season-low, while Schaeffer struck out six batters without issuing a walk. The junior college transfer from Auburn, Pennsylvania, threw 102 pitches.

Virginia Tech (41-12) suffered its first shutout loss since being blanked 8-0 by Notre Dame in last year’s ACC Championship and lost for only the sixth time in the last 37 games. But as the nation’s consensus No. 2-ranked team, the Hokies remain in line for a favorable spot in the NCAA tournament field when the 64-team bracket is unveiled on Monday.

The Tar Heels knocked Virginia Tech back early, scoring four runs on six hits in the top of the first to chase Virginia Tech starter Drue Hackenberg (10-2) from the game. Honeycutt’s two-run homer highlighted the flurry.

UNC continued to play long ball in the top of the second, going up 6-0 as Angel Zarate and Honeycutt connected for solo shots off Hokies reliever Graham Firoved. Honeycutt’s second home run was his 19th of the season, breaking the school freshman record of 18 set by Aaron Sabato in 2019.

The Tar Heels made it 7-0 in the top of the fourth on yet another solo home run by Danny Serretti. UNC had already collected 11 hits by the end of the fourth frame.

UNC picked up two more runs in the top of the seventh inning as Honeycutt scored on a throwing error and Tomas Frick added an RBI double off the top of the centerfield wall. Hunter Stokely’s run-scoring double in the top of the ninth capped the scoring.

A total of 46 home runs have been hit in the 12 ACC Baseball Championship games this week, with three games still scheduled to be played. The record for total home runs in a tournament since the ACC switched to a pool-play format in 2007 is the 51 hit in 2010 at Greensboro, North Carolina (13 games). A total of 45 home runs were hit in 15 games here last year.

2022 ACC BASEBALL 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 vs. No. 4 Notre Dame, 1 p.m. (ACCN/ACCN Extra)

No. 11 Pitt vs. No. 10 NC State, 5 p.m. (ACCN/ACCN Extra)

Sunday, May 29

ACC Championship, Noon (ESPN2/ACCN Extra)