CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 22 Tennessee had its memorable season come to an end, falling to No. 14 North Carolina, 5-2, in Saturday night’s regional final game at Boshamer Stadium.
A bad first inning on the mound and a tough night offensively were the difference in the game, as UNC completed a perfect 3-0 weekend in the regional with the victory.
The Vols got off to a rough start against the Tar Heels, allowing four runs on four hits in the first inning. Zach Linginfelter got the starting nod but recorded just two outs before being pulled from the game.
Junior reliever Will Heflin had a stellar relief appearance to keep the Vols in it, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings while allowing just a single hit. He also struck out three batters before Andrew Shultz came in for the Vols in the bottom of the fourth.
Shultz also had a solid outing, surrendering one run through two innings while striking out a pair of batters to keep UT within striking distance.
Richard Jackson was next out of the pen for the Vols and was arguably to best pitcher on the night for either team, limiting the Tar Heels to just one hit in a career-high 3.1 shutout innings. The redshirt senior right hander also tied a career-high with four strikeouts in his final game for the Big Orange.
While Tennessee’s bullpen kept the game close most of the night, the offensive struggles proved to be too much to overcome. Alerick Soularie and Jay Charleston scored the lone runs for the Vols on the evening. Soularie finished the day leading the UT attack with two hits and an RBI to go along with his run scored.
Junior righty Austin Bergner was solid on the mound for the Tar Heels, holding the Vols to just two runs on four hits while striking out eight batters in seven innings of work. Bergner earned the win to improve to 6-1 on the year.
Joey Lancellotti sealed the deal for UNC with two shutout innings to pick up his third save of the year. The Vols made things interesting in the ninth with a pair of two-out walks to bring the tying run to the plate, nut Lancellotti recorded his third strikeout of the game to end the game.
Aaron Sabato and Dallas Tessar both had two hits while Ashton McGee drove in two runs to lead the Tar Heels offensively.
BULLPEN HOLDS IT DOWN: After UT gave up four runs on four hits in the top of the first, the bullpen was able to shut down the Tar Heels’ lineup for the remainder of the game. UNC scored just one run on two hits over the final 8.1 innings.
The duo of Will Heflin and Richard Jackson combined to throw 6.1 scoreless frames with seven strikeouts and only one hit allowed. Jackson set a career high in innings pitched (3.1) and also tied a career high with four strikeouts.
HISTORIC SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE: Tennessee finishes the year with a 40-21 record, the most wins since the 2005 tram had 46. The Vols’ 14-16 SEC record was also with the best for the program since finishing 18-11 in 2005.