Hurricanes baseball to face Tar Heels in top-10 matchup

The No. 3 Hurricanes swept a top 20-ranked Clemson side last weekend. Their reward? A three-game series with No. 9 North Carolina that starts on Friday at Mark Light Field.

The Canes will look to build off their success against Clemson when they take on the Tar Heels. Senior left-handed pitcher Thomas Woodrey will open the series on the mound for the Canes Friday night. He has struggled this season with a 5.40 ERA in six starts, highest among the Canes’ starting pitchers. But Woodrey played well his last time out, when he gave up only two runs in 5.1 innings against a potent Clemson lineup.

The Canes (20-4, 7-2) will have to face UNC’s top pitcher Zac Gallen, who has a 1.49 ERA and has only walked seven batters in 42.1 innings pitched. If sophomore leadoff batter Carl Chester and junior catcher Zack Collins, who has reached base in 19 consecutive games, can continue getting on base at an impressive clip, they should be able to counteract Gallen’s pitching.

Saturday’s matchup will feature a pitching battle between UNC’s J.B. Bukauskas and the Canes’ left-handed sophomore Michael Mediavilla. Bukauskas is coming into the game with some momentum, as he threw eight scoreless innings without giving up a walk his last time out against Georgia Tech. Mediavilla has been impressive in his first season as a starter, recording four wins and zero losses with a 2.53 ERA in six starts.

To end the series on Sunday, the Canes will start left-handed junior Garcia, who holds the best ERA among the team’s starting pitchers at 2.17. Garcia and the rest of the pitching staff will look to Collins, Miami’s star slugger, to provide run support. Collins has turned in a strong season to date, leading the team with a .418 batting average and six home runs as well as leading the ACC with a .587 on-base percentage.

The Canes have a strong offense, but the Tar Heels (20-4, 6-3) sit third in the ACC with 190 runs scored this season. UNC’s Tyler Ramirez leads the Tar Heels with a slugging percentage of .707. They also have a balanced attack with six hitters who have a batting average over .300.

The Canes play North Carolina at 7 p.m. on Friday at Mark Light Field.