ATLANTA --- J.B. Bukauskas struck out a career-high 14 batters and Josh Hiatt stranded the tying run on second for his sixth save of the year as No. 9 North Carolina outlasted Georgia Tech 6-5 Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. Logan Warmoth's titanic solo homer in the ninth proved to be the winning run on a night when the teams combined for five long balls.
Carolina (14-4, 3-1 ACC) struck for a pair of runs in the second against Tech starter Xzavion Curry. Cody Roberts doubled home Kyle Datres and then scored on a Brandon Riley sac fly to make it 2-0 Tar Heels early.
But as they would repeatedly on the night, Georgia Tech (11-4, 1-3 ACC) quickly responded. After striking out the side in first, Bukauskas allowed a pair of baserunners on an error and a walk. Two batters later, Ryan Peurifoy drove them both home with a two-run single.
Bukauskas (3-0) went right back to mowing down the Yellow Jackets in the third, striking out the side for the second time in three innings.
Tyler Lynn put UNC back in front with a solo homer in the fourth before Datres made it 4-2 with his solo shot in the sixth. That looked to be enough support for a dominant Bukauskas, who was already at 11 strikeouts through five, but Tech rallied again behind back-to-back homers from Joey Bart and Trevor Craport.
Brian Miller led off the Carolina seventh with a single and moved to second on a Warmoth groundout. With two gone in the inning and reliever Jared Datoc in for Curry (3-2), Gahagan chopped a single up the middle to score Miller and put the Tar Heels back in front again.
Bukauskas capped his career night with two final punchouts in the seventh, the 14th coming on a called strike three to retire Austin Wilhite.
The game stayed 5-4 until the ninth, when Warmoth launched his team-high fourth homer of the year deep to left. The insurance run would loom large in the home half of the inning, when Georgia Tech mounted one last charge against Hiatt.
Tech put two on with nobody out after Craport doubled and Kel Johnson walked. But the Tar Heels got a massive first out when Roberts threw out Craport at third on an attempted double steal before Hiatt struck out Coleman Poje swinging. Following a Keenan Innis RBI single and an error that allowed Peurifoy to reach, Hiatt fanned Wilhite with a 3-2 fastball, stranding the tying and winning runs on base. The freshman closer struck out four in two innings and locked down his sixth save of the year.
Bukauskas and Hiatt combined for 18 strikeouts on the night, the most for the Tar Heels since Hobbs Johnson, Trent Thornton, Chris McCue and Chris Munnelly racked up 21 in the 18-inning win over NC State on May 25 and 26, 2013.
Datres had three hits to lead Carolina, which out-hit the Yellow Jackets 11-5. Warmoth added two hits and extended his reached base streak to 33 games.
The three-game series continues Saturday at 1 p.m. with Luca Dalatri getting the start for UNC.