CHAPEL HILL --- No. 17 North Carolina completed its first sweep of 2014 as the Tar Heels topped North Florida 8-5 on Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium. Freshman Zac Gallen earned his first win with a solid 6.0 innings for the Tar Heels in his third start, allowing six hits and three earned runs while striking out four.
The game started with some early action by North Florida (4-6) when the Ospreys got two singles and took advantage of a fielder's choice, a wild pitch and two Carolina errors to score two runs in the top of the first inning.
UNC (7-3) wouldn't answer until the bottom of the fourth after Skye Bolt drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a North Florida error. Korey Dunbar also drew a walk from North Florida's starter Bryan Baker to set up pinch-hitter Michael Massardo. Massardo laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position before a sacrifice fly from Tyler Ramirez scored Bolt and pulled UNC within one.
After a tough first inning, Gallen buckled down and allowed just one hit through the next four innings. In the sixth inning, though, the Ospreys tallied three more hits off the freshman and got two more across the plate with a two-out, two-run single to right field by UNF shortstop Kyle Brooks.
The Tar Heels responded immediately in the bottom of the inning with some two-out action of their own. After a leadoff double by Michael Russell, North Florida made a pitching change and called for Dan VanSickle, who struck out the next two batters he faced.
That was all VanSickle would get, though, as UNC worked through three North Florida pitchers with five hits, one walk and five runs before the inning ended to take a 6-4 lead. Landon Lassiter had the big blow in the inning as he drove in a pair of runs to break a 4-4 tie.
Carolina would add two more runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to secure the win and the series sweep. The last run came off a solo home run by freshman Joe Dudek, the first of his UNC career.
Chris McCue got his fourth save of the year with a scoreless appearance in which he allowed just one hit and struck out three through 1.2 innings. McCue got out of a jam in the eighth when UNF put the tying runs on base with one out. The junior closer got James Abbatinozzi to line out to Bolt in center, who threw behind Alex Smith for a double play to end the inning.
VanSickle took the loss for the Ospreys, dropping to 1-1 on the season.
Carolina will be back in action on Wednesday, March 5, when the Tar Heels take on Davidson at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the Boshamer box office and on GoHeels.com.