GREENSBORO, NC - Sophomore left-hander Clay Gibson pitched six strong innings and Patrick Currin pitched out of trouble twice to earn his seventh save of the season as UNC Greensboro knocked off No. 1 ranked North Carolina, 7-6, in baseball action at UNCG Baseball Stadium on Tuesday night.
Currin, a native of Chapel Hill, NC, earned the save in dramatic fashion. Coming into the game in the top of the eighth inning of a 5-4 game, Currin faced runners at second and third with one out. However, he pitched out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts to keep it a one-run contest.
UNCG (17-22) scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to pad the lead on a two-run double to left by Guy Welsh. Welsh’s ball glanced just off the top of the outstretched glove of Tar Heel third baseman Reid Fronk into left field to make it a 7-4 game.
In the ninth, Currin faced trouble again. He hit Bryan Steed with an 0-2 pitch to open the inning. Mike Cassavini followed with a pinch-hit double to put runners at second and third. He struck out the next two batters before walking pinch-hitter Matt Cox to load the bases. Chad Flack followed with a two-run single to right to cut it to 7-6.
But Currin, facing Matt Spencer who had homered earlier in the game, coaxed a ground ball to first to end the game and give UNCG’s baseball program its first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked team.
“It was very exciting to play and beat a top team, especially a team from the town where I grew up,” Currin said. “I thought it was a great game and I thought we hit the ball really well. Gibson was terrific for us tonight and I can’t say enough about the way he battled for us out there.”
UNCG took a 2-0 lead with one out in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Wes McCall. North Carolina (31-8) got one back in the top of the second with a sacrifice fly by Tim Federowicz.
UNCG broke out to a three-run lead in the fourth. Sean Snell drove in one run with an RBI ground out to make it 3-1. Adam Deleo followed three pitches later with an RBI single to make it a 4-1 game.
The Tar Heels tied it, however, in the seventh. Spencer led off with a line drive home run to right field on an 0-2 pitch to open the inning. That chased Gibson, but was nearly the only mistake Gibson made. He went six-plus innings and allowed just six hits and two runs with one walk allowed and two strikeouts.
“I told my roommate this morning that I thought something special was going to happen tonight,” Gibson said. “We hadn’t played well against ACC teams all season (earlier losses to North Carolina State and Wake Forest) and its feels great to be able to beat North Carolina tonight. This is definitely the biggest win in my career.
Reliever Clinton McKinney was rudely greeted after replacing Gibson. After striking out Federowciz to open his stint, Seth Williams doubled and McKinney hit Steed with a pitch. Ryan Falcon came on in relief of McKinney and got a shallow fly out to center for the second out. However, Shelton hit a sinking liner to right that fell just in front of Snell in right and the ball skipped by him as he dove for the catch. Shelton wound up at third and the game was tied.
However, UNCG broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by David Adams and Jermaine Mitchell.
North Carolina committed a season-high five errors on the evening and has committed at least one error in 31 of 39 games this season.
“Carolina had a few miscues in the field tonight, but we were able to capitalize on them,” head coach Mike Gaski said. “Tonight was a great night for the team and the entire University.”
Welsh led the Spartans with two hits and a pair of RBIs, while Snell extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single to left in the sixth. Flack was 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Tar Heels.
Tuesday night’s game was also Papa John’s night at the ballpark. Each fan and student that shows their ticket stub at the Papa John’s on Spring Garden Street will receive a free pizza compliments of Papa John’s, a proud corporate sponsor of UNCG Athletics. Tuesday's game drew a season-high crowd of 1,033.
UNCG will face Georgia Southern in Statesboro for a three-game series beginning Friday evening at 7 p.m. The Tar Heels return home to begin a three-game series with rival North Carolina State Friday.
UNC Greensboro 7, North Carolina 6 (Apr 18, 2006 at Greensboro,
North Carolina...... 010 000 302 - 6 11 5 (31-8)
UNC Greensboro...... 200 200 12X - 7 9 0 (17-22)
Pitchers: North Carolina - Luke Putkonen; Matt Danford(4); Mike Facchinei(6);
Jonathan Hovis(7); Brian Farrell(8); Adam Warren(8). UNC Greensboro - Clay Gibson;
Clinton McKinney(7); Ryan Falcon(7); Patrick Currin(8).
Win-Ryan Falcon(2-1) Save-Patrick Currin(7) Loss-Mike Facchinei(0-1) T-3:07 A-1033
HR UNC - Matt Spencer.
Gibson faced 1 batter in the 7th.
Facchinei, M faced 1 batter in the 7th.
Farrell, B faced 1 batter in the 8th.
- UNCG -