Freshman Shines on Senior Day

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 13 North Carolina's 3-2 Senior Day victory on Saturday to sweep the series with No. 1 Virginia belongs to the Tar Heels playing their final regular season game at Boshamer Stadium, but it was freshman Colin Moran who stole the show.

"He goes up there, and is ready to get in the box, and do his job as soon as he gets in there," UNC senior pitcher Bryant Gaines said. "He doesn't play like a freshman. He plays like he's been in the box, and he's been comfortable for a couple of years. I think getting as much as we have out of him has gone far above and beyond what everybody expected. Not that everybody didn't expect much, but being a freshman that's as key of a role as where he is in the lineup."

The third baseman from Rye, N.Y., batting third in the lineup, went 4-for-4 at the plate and recorded two RBI and two doubles on Saturday. His four hits tie his season-high set against Maryland on May 8.

For the weekend, Moran hit an impressive 4-for-8, including four RBI, two doubles and two walks.

"Hits weren't coming too easy the first couple of days, but it seemed like I was able to string a couple of hits together tonight," Moran said. "In the big spot it kind of makes you focus more. I have to realize the pressure is on the pitcher, so I have to just try to relax, and hopefully come through for the team."

He did more than come through for the Diamond Heels. This weekend alone fielded the biggest challenge North Carolina has faced at the mound this season. Friday and Saturday pitted the Tar Heels against two starting pitchers with ERAs lower than 1.5, and Virginia's Saturday starter Will Roberts (10-1) was undefeated until UNC handed him a loss.

"[Moran] just has a knack for getting big hits for us, and he's done it all year," UNC assistant coach Scott Jackson said. "Usually freshmen have a lull that they go through, and he just hasn't had one. I didn't expect us to get 11 hits today. He got four of them. He's a special guy. We're just proud he's a Tar Heel."

Moran does have a knack for clutch hits. His biggest one came in the bottom of the fifth when he nailed a two-run RBI-double, scoring Seth Baldwin and Chaz Frank to break a 1-1 tie.

With that clutch at-bat, Moran is moving closer to an elite category. He is batting .355 and is only six RBI away from tying Dustin Ackley's freshman record of 73 RBI in a season. Marshall Hubbard holds UNC's all-time record for the most RBI in a season with 83 in 2004.

Moran currently leads the ACC with 67 RBI. Florida State's James Ramsey is a distant second with 57.

"Colin Moran, the kid knows how to hit," UNC head coach Mike Fox said. "It's just a matter of who is going to step up there, and get that big hit. There was nobody else we wanted in the box right there than him at that time. He's done it all year long for us."

This senior day win gives North Carolina its sixth sweep of the season, and fifth in conference play. The Tar Heels will find out on Sunday who they open with in next week's ACC Tournament.

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