UNC P Zac Gallen Throws Gem

The junior delivered one of his best performances on Friday night.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In what was potentially his last start at Boshamer Stadium, junior pitcher Zac Gallen delivered a gem in a crucial 3-0 series-opening win over Notre Dame.

“We need wins, and who knows if that’s his last outing here or not,” said head coach Mike Fox after the game Friday. “I guess under all those circumstances, that ranks up there with his best, and he’s had some really good ones here.”

Gallen (5-5, 2.35 ERA) struck out eight batters while cruising through eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball. It marked another strong Friday night start for the Gibbsboro, N.J. native, who has anchored UNC’s pitching rotation throughout the season.

“He’s been everything that we thought that he would be when we recruited him,” said Fox. “He just wants to win, and that comes across every time he’s down here.”

Gallen wasn’t the only key to the Diamond Heels’ victory, however. Junior center fielder Tyler Ramirez and freshman third baseman Kyle Datres each made spectacular plays behind Gallen to keep the Irish at bay.

“Every play they made was like, ‘Oh man, that’s sweet,’” said Gallen. “They played out of their minds tonight. It’s always good to have faith in your defense behind you.”

That defense helped Gallen take a no-hitter into the fifth inning, where Ramirez made a spectacular diving catch to keep the magic alive. Gallen understood the weight of the play at that time thanks to his teammates’ superstitions.

“As the game went on, people stopped talking to me, and I’m not that type of person, if it happens, it happens,” said Gallen. “If not, I’m just going out there and trying to make pitches. Tyler Ramirez made a heck of a play.”

And while he lost the no-hitter on a fifth-inning double to right-center, the junior righty still carried a shutout into the ninth, where Fox made the call to send out sophomore relief pitcher Hansen Butler. While most pitchers would want to come back out, Gallen didn’t fight the decision.

“I kinda looked ahead, it’s gonna be a short week with N.C. State coming up, and that’s gonna be an even more important start,” said Gallen. “Tonight he came out and it was probably one of the times I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’”

Even though he didn’t get that curtain call, Fox couldn’t help but be sentimental about Gallen’s time in a Carolina uniform.

“If he does go and decide to sign, that’s great, we’ll be happy for him,” said Fox. “But it’s gonna be sad to see him leave our program, because he’s been a big part of it.”

Sophomore right-hander J.B. Bukauskas will try to replicate Gallen’s excellence as Carolina (32-18, 11-14) looks to clinch this critical series against Notre Dame (26-23, 10-13) with ACC Tournament cutline implications in game two Saturday at 6 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium.

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