CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For the second time this weekend, fourth-ranked Florida State (15-4, 3-3 ACC) scored two runs in the eighth and twice more in the ninth to secure its first series win in Chapel Hill since 2000 as the Seminoles defeated 17th-ranked North Carolina (15-6, 2-4 ACC) 5-3 on Sunday afternoon inside Boshamer Stadium.
With the Seminoles trailing 3-1 heading into the eighth, sophomore Sherman Johnson ignited the come-from-behind victory with a solo shot to right center off UNC reliever Greg Holt.
The Tampa, Fla., native took a 2-2 pitch from Greg Holt and hit a line drive over the wall in right center for his third round tripper of the season. After a walk to Justin Gonzalez, UNC skipper Mike Fox went to the bullpen and called on Nate Striz (0-1). On the second offering from Striz, Sean Gilmartin went opposite field sneaking a double inside the bag at third as the ball rolled into the corner scoring Gonzalez from first and tying the game at 3-3.
Stephen Cardullo led off the ninth with a single through the right side and took second on his team-leading fifth stolen base of the season. A base hit by Mike McGee moved Cardullo within 90 feet of scoring. After a Tar Heel pitching change, James Ramsey stepped in and hit a chopper through the right side off R.C. Orlan plating Cardullo for the Seminoles first lead of the ball game. With the bases loaded and one out, Gonzalez gave the Noles a two-run lead sending a fly ball to left deep enough to score McGee for a 5-3 lead.
Brian Busch, who pitched six innings in relieve, recorded the first out in the ninth retiring Brian Goodwin on a deep fly to right that Ramsey hauled in on the warning track. After issuing a walk to Ryan Graepel, Martin called on Mike McGee to close the game. The junior right hander gave up his first base hit of the season to the first batter that he faced as Mike Cavasinni hit a base hit back up the middle. With runners at first and second, McGee got Dillion Hazlett swinging on strikes for the second out of the inning.
The Tar Heels refused to go away quietly as pinch hitter Seth Baldwin drew a walk to load the bases. But on a 1-1 pitch, McGee got Ben Bunting to ground into a fielder's choice put out at second for the final out of the inning and his second save of the weekend.
Busch earned the win on Sunday moving to 3-0 on the year. The sophomore southpaw shut down the Tar Heels over six innings of work allowing just one hit as the lone hit came with one out in the fourth. After hitting Bunting with a pitch to start the fifth, Busch retired 13 straight UNC batters before giving up a one out walk in the ninth.
Cardullo recorded a game-high three hits, while Tyler Holt, McGee and Johnson each registered two hits a piece. The Seminoles finished the game out hitting the Tar Heels 13-4.
The series victory for the Seminoles is the second straight over the Tar Heels and first in Chapel Hill since the Garnet and Gold took 2-of-3 back in 2000.
FSU starter Geoff Parker went 2.1 innings on Sunday allowing three runs on two hits. It marked his shortest outing of the season and shortest start since working 1.1 innings against Boston College back on March 7, 2009.
The Tar Heels loaded the bases in the second courtesy of three walks issued by Parker. The walks would come back to haunt the junior right hander as UNC first baseman Dillion Hazlett cleared the bases with a three-run double to the gap in right center to give the Tar Heels an early 3-0 lead.
Florida State left a pair of runners stranded in the third after the first two batters reached on back-to-back base hits. Rafael Lopez led off the inning with a single to right center and moved to second on a beautiful bunt base hit by Holt. But that was as far as the Seminoles would advance as UNC starter Patrick Johnson got Cardullo to foul out on a bunt and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to keep the UNC lead at three.
Parker faced the first three batters before Martin went to the pen and brought on Brian Busch. With Carolina runners at first and third and one out, Busch got Goodwin swinging on strikes and Graepel to fly out to center to keep the deficit at three.
The Seminoles finally broke through with a run in the fifth on an RBI single to right by Cardullo. FSU put together a one-out rally as three consecutive Seminole batters reached on a walk to Lopez, a single to center by Holt and Cardullo's RBI single to right.
Florida State loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and came away empty handed. Consecutive base hits by Stuart Tapley and Johnson to start the inning ended the afternoon for Patrick Johnson. Greg Holt came on in relief and after walking Gonzalez to load the bases, got Gilmartin to ground into a fielder's choice put out at home. Holt then got Lopez to ground into an inning ending double play to maintain UNC's 3-1 lead.
Johnson pitched a gem for the Tar Heels allowing just one run on seven hits as he walked two and struck out six in earning a no decision.
The Seminoles return home to face Stetson on Wednesday, March 24. First pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m. on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Fans can listen in locally on 1270 the Team and 94.3 FM and on the web at Seminoles.com.
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