CHAPEL HILL --- Tyler Baum pitched five shutout innings and Brian Miller had three hits as No. 10 North Carolina beat VCU 8-2 Tuesday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium. Ashton McGee, Ike Freeman and Brandon Riley each drove in a pair of runs for the Tar Heels, who open Atlantic Coast Conference play Friday against No. 8 Virginia.
Carolina (10-3) scored in the first inning for the seventh time this year when McGee tripled home Logan Warmoth and Zack Gahagan to give the Tar Heels an early 2-0 lead. UNC eventually got to VCU starter Michael Dailey (2-2) for seven runs in five innings, with Freeman's fifth-inning two-run double highlighting the offensive attack.
Baum (2-0) posted his second sharp outing to start his Carolina career. The Ocoee, Florida, right-hander retired the first eight Ram batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past second. Baum has now thrown 10.2 scoreless innings in wins over Winthrop and VCU (6-6).
The Rams scored twice in the seventh to make it 7-2, but Rodney Hutchison Jr. got a groundout to strand three runners and keep the Tar Heels in control. Riley doubled in a run in the eighth to cap the scoring, and Brett Daniels worked a perfect ninth to wrap up the win.
Daane Berezo and Logan Farrar had two hits apiece to lead VCU, though Berezo and catcher Dylan Isquirdo eventually had to leave the game after a scary collision in the fifth. Both players stayed in the game but were lifted an inning later.
Carolina opens conference play Friday at 3:30 p.m. when No. 8 Virginia visits Boshamer Stadium. The game, which was originally scheduled for a 6:30 start, will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.