CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Junior right-hander Zac Gallen threw a four-hit complete game gem in No. 11 North Carolina’s 6-0 victory over Virginia Tech on Friday night.
“It’s just a great performance by him,” head coach Mike Fox said after the game. “Just a lot of strikes and two walks and 13 strikeouts. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Gallen (4-2, ) set a career high with 13 strikeouts, topping his previous high of 12 (Duke, ‘15). He notched 80 strikes out of the 118 pitches he tossed. It was a much-needed bounce back after his worst outing of the season at Miami last weekend.
“It’s good to just come out here and wash that one away,” Gallen said.
Gallen allowed a career-high 11 hits in 4.2 innings in the series-opening 10-4 loss against the Hurricanes. After losing six of its last nine games entering Friday’s contest, UNC needed to regain its footing against the Hokies this weekend, and Gallen’s performance set an important tone.
“You just kind of want to get that bad taste out of your mouth,” Gallen said. “You’ve just got to come out there and get on the good foot on Friday and thankfully we did that.”
On Friday, the Hokies got their leadoff man on base three times, but were unable to move him into scoring position. Gallen retired 10 batters in a row starting in the third inning.
The Gibbsboro, N.J. native utilized his fastball throughout the game, keeping his velocity consistently in the low-90s.
“The cutter I had in the middle innings, towards the end I didn’t have a feel for it,” Gallen said. “I just kind of stuck with my fastball and located that pretty well.”
The co-captain understands its his job to get things rolling for each weekend series with his Friday night starts, and what impact that has on the team.
“(J.B. Bukauskas) was kind of like, ‘Hey man, everything feeds off you,’” Gallen said. “So it’s just kind of my job on Friday night to come set the tone and leave the door open for those next two guys that are going to start for us.”
Gallen’s complete game keeps the bullpen fresh for any potential work on Saturday and Sunday.