College baseball: Honeycutt delivers again: UNC in College World Series

Published 1:51 pm Sunday, June 9, 2024


CHAPEL HILL (AP) —   Former Salisburh High Vance Honeycutt hit a home run on the game’s first pitch after ending the opener of the best-of-three series with a walk-off two-run shot, and North Carolina held off West Virginia 2-1 on Saturday night, sweeping the best-of-three Chapel Hill Super Regional and grabbing a berth in the College World Series.

North Carolina (47-14) will play in its 12th CWS looking to win it for the first time. The Tar Heels finished second in back-to-back seasons, losing both times to the Oregon State Beavers in 2006-07. North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia have clinched berths in the Series with five spots still up for grabs.

Honeycutt, who homered in the ninth inning of the Tar Heels’ 8-6 victory in the opener, homered off West Virginia starter Tyler Switalski leading off the game. Honeycutt’s home run was his school-record 26th of the season, moving him one past the single-season record he set two seasons ago. It was also the school-record 63rd of his career.

The Tar Heels scored their final run on three singles in the third. Honeycutt got it started when he bunted with two away and beat it out. Casey Cook followed with a base hit up the middle to put runners at the corners and Parks Harber plated Honeycutt with a single through the left side of the infield for what proved to be the winning run.

The Mountaineers scored their lone run in the bottom of the seventh. Reed Chumley singled with one out, took second on a two-out walk to Spencer Barnett and raced home on a Kyle West single through the left side.

West Virginia (36-24), which advanced to the first super regional in school history, loaded the bases against Tar Heels reliever Dalton Pence with two outs in the ninth, but Ben Lumsden was retired on a groundout to end the game and earn Pence his eighth save of the season.

Jason Decaro (6-1) pitched 6 1/3 innings in a start for North Carolina to get the win, allowing one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five. Pence yielded two hits and three walks in pitching the final 2 2/3 innings.

Switalski (5-3) took the loss for the Mountaineers. He gave up two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

The game turned out to be the last for West Virginia (36-24) head coach Randy Mazey, who announced he would step down after the season and turn the reins over to longtime associate head coach Steve Sabins. Mazey retires with a 541-424-2 record with head coaching stops at Charleston Southern (1994-96) and East Carolina (2003-05) before taking the job with the Mountaineers in 2013. Mazey won conference coach-of-the-year honors in the Big South and Conference USA before earning the award in the Big 12 in 2019 and last season.


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