ATLANTA --- Kel Johnson's two-run homer in the 12th lifted Georgia Tech to a 4-2 win over No. 9 North Carolina Saturday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium. Johnson's game winner broke a 2-2 deadlock that lasted for six innings after Tyler Lynn's solo shot tied it in the sixth. Luca Dalatri was outstanding again for Carolina, allowing just one earned run on five hits over eight innings in a no decision.
Michael Busch opened the scoring with his first home run as a Tar Heel, a towering solo shot to right in the third off GT's Jonathan Hughes. But the Yellow Jackets (12-5, 2-3 ACC) jumped on Dalatri for two runs in the bottom half for their first lead of the series.
Neither team could break through again until the sixth, when Lynn drove an 0-1 pitch from Robert Winborne out to right center to pull Carolina (14-5, 3-2 ACC) even.
Dalatri, who threw first-pitch strikes to 30 of the 32 batters he faced, struck out the side in the seventh and maneuvered around a leadoff single in the eighth before giving way to the Tar Heel bullpen. Austin Bergner and Rodney Hutchison Jr. (2-1) pitched into and out of trouble several times in the late innings, but the duo got inning-ending double plays in both the ninth and 11th innings to keep the game going.
Carolina had a number of its own chances to take a late lead, but Winborne, Jay Shadday, Jared Datoc and Zac Ryan (2-0) kept the Tar Heels off the scoreboard. UNC's best chance came in the 11th, when Zack Gahagan singled off Datoc and Kyle Datres was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After a strikeout and a flyout, Datoc was replaced by Ryan, who struck out Brandon Riley to strand two in scoring position.
Wade Bailey led off the Tech 12th with a single, but he was still on first with two outs after Hutchison retired Trevor Craport and Joey Bart. That brought Johnson to the plate, and the junior first baseman sent the first pitch he saw over the right field fence to end it. The homer was Johnson's seventh of the year.
Ashton McGee had three of Carolina's seven hits on the day to match his season high.
The decisive game three of the series is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. with Jason Morgan to get the ball for UNC.