CHAPEL HILL (February 19, 2019) –Left-handed Sophomore Ethan Chavis came close to doing what he did when he was a freshman – beat the North Carolina Tar Heels.
But for the second straight season, Chavis and the Aggies came up a little short as the No. 5 Tar Heels defeated the Aggies, 2-1 at Boshamer Stadium Tuesday evening. A year ago, Chavis held the Tar Heels to one run in a 1-0 defeat to the Tar Heels at Boshamer. The Tar Heels did defeat the Aggies in last season’s NCAA Chapel Hill Regional inside Boshamer.
N.C. A&T was looking to finally break through and defeat the Tar Heels for the first time since 1993 with an upset on Tuesday. The Aggies (3-1) planned to build on their pitching performance over the weekend in which they swept the Niagara Purple Eagles by holding them to five runs, three earned, over three games.
Chavis gave up one hit over six scoreless innings while striking out three and surrendering only one walk. It follows the start of junior Michael Johnson on Sunday who went six innings, gave up three hits, walked none and struck out four in the Aggies 6-0 win over the Eagles. Chavis pitched six innings and gave up one run on four hits while striking out four and walking four in last season’s regular-season contest against UNC. His sterling performance still, unfortunately, resulted in him being the game’s losing pitcher.
When Chavis left the game on Tuesday, he had a 1-0 lead. Senior A.J. Hunt put the Aggies on the board with an RBI single to center field in the Aggies fourth inning. His single scored Brandon Melendez, who led the inning with a double to left field, from second base. N.C. A&T had a chance to expand their lead against the Tar Heels in the fourth.
Senior Dawnoven Smith followed Hunt’s single with a single of his own to put runners on first and second. A double steal from Hunt and Smith put both men in scoring position with one out. Tar Heel reliever Josh Dotson (RHP) got Justin Williams to ground to shortstop which resulted in Hunt being thrown out at the plate. Freshman Donte Wade then popped up to end the inning.
The Tar Heels finally broke through in their seventh off freshman reliever Gianni Smith (RHP). Caleb Roberts’ singled was followed by a walk to Ike Freeman. The Aggies then turned to right-hander Tim Luth to halt UNC’s rally. Luth retired the next two Tar Heels before a walk to Ben Casparius loaded the bases. Ashton McGee then delivered the game-winning hit with a two-run RBI double to right field giving the Tar Heels a 2-1 lead.
The Aggies did bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the visitor’s eighth. Junior Shane Faulk opened the inning by walking a 3-2 pitch. Faulk, however, was picked off before Melendez and Hunt were able to reach base on a single and walk. With Hunt representing the go-ahead run, Dawnoven Smith grounded out to third advancing both base runners into scoring position with two outs.
UNC brought in RHP Austin Love to face junior Cam Williamson. Love struck out Williamson to end the threat. Love retired the Aggies in order in the ninth to earn the save. Left-hander Caden O’Brien (1-0) got the win while Gianni Smith (0-1) took the loss.
Melendez led the Aggies with two hits. The Aggies are scheduled to face the Elon Phoenix 4 p.m., Wednesday, February 20 at War Memorial Stadium.