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Virginia Baseball wins series over North Carolina, clinches ACC Tournament berth

A three-run first inning would be all Brandon Waddell needed to take down the Tar Heels and clinch no worse than the 9th seed in next week's ACC Tournament

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Waddell once again looked like the pitcher Wahoo fans have come to expect after his first two years.  Over the last four series, he and Connor Jones have become as good a 1, 1a punch as there is in college baseball. Tonight he went 7.0 strong, giving up no runs, on seven hits, walking four, while striking out six.  The Virginia offense spotted him a three run first inning lead and that would be all he and Josh Sborz would need to guide the Hoos to a 6-2 victory over the Heels.

The Hoos were hot early as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Daniel Pinero got things started with a one-out walk.  Matt Thaiss followed with a single and then Kenny Towns doubled to right center to bring home Pinero. Thaiss would cross the plate on a wild pitch and Towns followed shortly on a Pavin Smith sacrifice fly.

The strong start wouldn't end there as the Hoos added two more in the top of the second when Joe McCarthy led off with a single and scored from first when Ernie Clement singled to right, but was aided by a UNC fielding error. Clement then scored on an Adam Hasely RBI single through the right side giving the Hoos a 5-0 lead. Virginia would finish their scoring in the fifth when Jack Gerstenmairer's two-out single scored Towns.

The Tar Heels made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth.  After Sborz came in to relieve Waddell, he gave up a one-out double to Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth which scored two.  Sborz settled down to strike out the final two batters of the inning to preserve the Virginia 6-2 lead. In the ninth, after Tyler Ramirez drew a lead-off walk, Alex Raburn grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the potential threat.  Finally Landon Lassiter grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

With the win, combined the night's other ACC results, Virginia moves into the 8th spot in the ACC standings.  They can finish no worse than 9th in the league, however because both Clemson and NC State won tonight, the Hoos can finish no better than 7th and will be playing on Tuesday in the play-in round.

Virginia looks for the sweep tomorrow.  First pitch is at 12 p.m. from Chapel Hill.