MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. --- Trent Thornton had a career-high 10 strikeouts and Michael Russell had four hits and drove in four as No. 11 North Carolina evened its series with the College of Charleston with a 12-3 win Sunday afternoon at Patriots Point. Chris McCue pitched two scoreless innings to notch his first save of the year and Zach Daly clubbed his first career home run in the victory.
The Tar Heels (1-1) manufactured a run in the third to take an early lead. Michael Massardo reached on a leadoff walk and stole second before moving to third on a Tyler Ramirez ground out. Wood Myers then drove Massardo in with a sharp single up the middle to put Carolina up 1-0.
Russell took advantage of a CofC (1-1) miscue to pad the lead in the fourth. After starter Taylor Clarke hit Skye Bolt to open the inning, Russell hit a foul pop that Charleston catcher Ryan Welke could not catch. Two pitches later, Russell made the Cougars pay, crushing a Clarke offering over the high wall in left for a 3-0 lead.
Another Russell RBI single made it 4-0 after four, as he plated Landon Lassiter with his run-scoring hit to center.
Meanwhile, Thornton was dominating. The sophomore retired seven straight to open the game and held the Cougars hitless through four with six strikeouts. But Charleston struck in the fifth through Welke. After a single and an error put two on, the big catcher lifted the first pitch he saw up and out to left to pull the hosts within one.
Unlike Saturday, however, Carolina responded against the CofC bullpen. Once again it was Russell who got things started, as his one-out hustle double set up Joe Dudek's RBI single later in the inning. Dudek, who got his first collegiate hit earlier in the game, smashed a run-scoring hit through the right side to push the UNC lead to 5-3.
After McCue pitched around a two-out walk in the bottom of the eighth, Carolina broke the game open in the top of the ninth. The Tar Heels touched Charleston's Tyler Thornton for seven runs in the frame, including Russell's fourth hit of the day and Daly's first career long ball.
McCue finished the six-out save with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth as UNC evened the series ahead of Monday afternoon's finale.
Carolina will send freshman right-hander Zac Gallen to mound in the 1 p.m. capper against Charleston sophomore Eric Bauer. Live video will be available through the Charleston Sports Network on CofCsports.com.