College baseball: Gallaher’s slam saves Tar Heels

Published 12:25 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

CHAPEL HILL  (AP) — Gavin Gallaher’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth rescued top-seeded North Carolina, who rallied from three runs down to defeat No. 4 seed Long Island 11-8 in the Chapel Hill Regional at the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

The Tar Heels (43-13) were down 8-5 heading in their half of the ninth after the Sharks rallied from 5-4 down with a four-run inning highlighted by Jacob Pipercic’s go-ahead three run homer.

But North Carolina was not done, especially not at home where the team went 32-2 before this latest victory.

Vance Honeycutt was hit by a pitch to start, then Casey Cook singled. Anthony Donofrio’s one-out single, his fourth hit of the game, loaded the bases. Alberto Osuna followed with an RBI single before reliever Justin DeCastro walked Luke Stevenson to force home a run and cut it to 8-7.

That’s when Gallaher smashed a shot that landed in front of the large video scoreboard in left center. Gallaher had his seventh home run this season and was mobbed by teammates after touching home.

The Tar Heels advanced to play second-seeded LSU for control of the regional Saturday. The Tigers had rallied to get past Wofford earlier in the day.

LIU, Northeast Conference tournament champs, will play to stay alive in the regional against Wofford of the Southern Conference.

It looked like Pipercic’s timely blast might send the Sharks against LSU. But Sharks’ relievers PJ Moritz and DeCastro surrendered six runs on four hits with a walk and a hit batter.

J. Mastillo had a three-run homer that put LIU ahead 3-1 in the third. North Carolina moved in front with three runs in the sixth, helped by Alex Osuna’s two-run single.

North Carolina reliever Matt Poston (4-2), who gave up Pipercic’s home run in the ninth, got the victory. DeCastro (4-4) picked up the loss.