CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Senior right-hander Bryant Gaines threw six innings of two-run ball and No. 9 North Carolina (39-10) scored a pair of runs in the final two innings to post a 4-2 victory over visiting UNC Asheville (15-30) Wednesday night at Boshamer Stadium. Ben Bunting went 2-for-4 and scored the game-winning win for the Tar Heels who have won eight straight games for the third time this season.
UNC Asheville's Patrick Koontz hit a pair of solo home runs that put the Bulldogs in front in both the second and fourth innings but the Tar Heels were able to battle back on both occasions to knot up the score.
Following Koontz's second inning home run the Tar Heels loaded the bases in the bottom of the third on three free passes from Asheville starter Dillon Tabar.
A strikeout put two outs on the board before Levi Michael raked a single through the right side to plate Jacob Stallings from third but Seth Baldwin was cut down at the plate attempting to take the lead.
Koontz answered in the next half inning depositing his second home run ball of the game to nearly the same spot in right field. The solo home run gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage.
Koontz was the only batter that could figure out starter Bryant Gaines Wednesday night as the senior right-hander limited Asheville to just three hits over six innings of work. Gaines retired the side in order in the first, fifth and sixth innings but left in a 2-2 tie earning a no decision for his effort.
Carolina evened the score at 2-2 in the fifth when Matt Roberts beat out an infield single to start a two-out rally. Chaz Frank moved into a tie for the team lead in triples when he turned on a ball and pulled it into the right field corner for his third triple of the year and fourth RBI of the week.
Tate Parrish came on in the top of the seventh and retired Koontz on several sliders to get the strike out before fellow freshman Andrew Smith came on to pick up the final two outs of the seventh.
Ben Bunting led things off with a single to right field and advanced to second on a hit and run play with Stallings at the dish.
Pinch hitter Parks Jordan hit a chopper to second base that Eli Miller fielded but his throw pulled Jordan Lurie off the bag at first allowing Jordan to reach safely and Bunting to score from second giving Carolina a 3-2 lead.
The Bulldogs threatened in the top of the eighth with a leadoff flair double to left but reliever Shane Taylor struck out the next three batters to close out the frame.
The Tar Heels tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth as Bunting singled home Levi Michael, who reached safely for the 23rd straight game via a walk to open the inning.
Michael Morin came on to record his fifth save of the year picking up three strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning.
All four Tar Heel runs came with two outs on the scoreboard as the Tar Heels improved to 39-10 on the year and 14-6 against in-state foes.