Strong hitting fuels Canes past Tar Heels, DiMare secures 75th win as UM head coach

Anthony Vilar (7) bats against the UNC Tar Heels on Friday, April 23 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC.
Anthony Vilar (7) bats against the UNC Tar Heels on Friday, April 23 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC. Photo credit: Andy Mead/UNC Athletics

After struggling offensively the past two games, UM exploded for 14 hits against the UNC Tar Heels on Sunday at Boshamer Stadium. The 8-1 win secured Gino DiMare’s 75th victory as head coach of the Hurricanes. Only three others in program history have achieved such a feat, and DiMare is the second-fastest to do so, taking just 112 games to reach the milestone.

Initially it looked as if the Tar Heels would cruise to another win when they jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. UNC’s Justice Thompson, who had gone a magnificent 4-for-7 in the past two games, continued his hot streak by hitting a double down the left-field line. Danny Serretti then singled to right field, which sent Thompson home and gave UNC (20-17, 14-13 ACC) a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second though, the Canes (22-13, 14-12 ACC) rallied back, hitting four runs off UNC’s Chris Joyner (1-1) to secure their largest lead of the series. Raymond Gil started things off by smacking a double to left field, which pushed Adrian Del Castillo to third after being previously walked. With two runners in scoring position, Alex Toral capitalized as he singled to left center, driving in two RBI. Shortly after, Dominic Pitelli blasted a two-run homer that gave the Canes a 4-1 lead.

On the defensive end, UM pitcher Jake Garland (5-1) bounced back after giving up a run by throwing five scoreless frames. He finished the day with six innings pitched, only letting in a single run on seven hits.

“This is what we’d like to see,” DiMare said. “On the pitching side of it, we got six innings and Jake wasn’t his sharpest, but he battled through it and he got us through six innings. We need our pitchers to do that. Seven would be great, but six innings gets us to our guys in our bullpen and we’d like to go to those guys.”

Relieving Garland was Daniel Federman, who gave up zero hits through 1.1 innings. Carson Palmquist then followed suit by allowing no hits to close out the game.

But even if the bullpen didn’t have a stellar outing, the Canes would’ve been ready. They managed to tack on several insurance runs towards the end of the game, which all started with Adrian and Christian Del Castillo’s opening singles at the top of the 7th inning. With two runners on, and Gabe Rivera up, Gino DiMare showed why he’s had so much success coaching UM these past three years by making a gutsy decision that paid off.

DiMare elected to pull Rivera, who hasn’t had a hit in his previous 15 at-bats, and inserted pinch-hitter Carlos Perez, who immediately punched in two RBI after doubling to center field. Pitelli then continued his spectacular outing by doubling down the right field line, putting the Canes up 7-1.

However, Pitelli’s day was still not over as he got another RBI by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field with the bases loaded, which ended up being the last run of the day.

On the offensive surge to end the game, DiMare said, “We did a good job of scoring late there to kind of put it away, which I thought was very, very important. Carlos Perez had a big, big hit right there that was maybe the knockout blow.”

Next up, the Canes look to carry their momentum back to the Miami when they face the FGCU Eagles Tuesday at Mark Light Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.