CHAPEL HILL --- Michael Patrick's three-run homer in the top of the second held up and No. 18 North Carolina fell to visiting Winthrop 3-1 Wendesday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium. Carolina loaded the bases with nobody out in the first but managed just one run, and Winthrop pitchers Zach Sightler and Josh Strong kept the Tar Heels at bay the rest of the game.
Sightler (2-1) struggled out of the gate for the Eagles, walking the bases loaded in the first. But after a pop into shallow right by Michael Russell and an RBI groundout by Tom Zengel, Sightler got Skye Bolt to fly out to center to end the rally.
The Carolina lead would be short-lived as Luis Paula surrendered the lead via the long ball. Brad Kaczka led off the second with a double and Clif Bryant drew a one-out walk. After an infield fly for the second out, Paula (1-3) gave up a three-run home run to Patrick to make it 3-1.
The Tar Heels (15-9) threatened in the third but ran into a key out at home. Wood Myers reached on a one-out single to center before Russell grounded behind the bag at third. Myers was running on the play and, after a throwing error, the freshman tried to score. But Chad Smith's throw from first was on target, and Myers was erased at the plate.
Winthrop (12-14) was unable to pad its lead against a quartet of Tar Heel relievers. Zach Rice, Trevor Kelley, Spencer Trayner and Reilly Hovis kept the Eagles off the scoreboard for the final 6.1 innings, but the UNC offense couldn't put together a rally after the missed opportunity in the first. Trayner was especially impressive, allowing just one hit in 2.2 innings and needing just 31 pitches.
Carolina had at least one runner on in each inning from the third through the eighth, but the Tar Heels left 10 men on base.
Josh Strong pitched the final 3.2 innings for his second save.
UNC is back in action Friday when the Tar Heels visit Duke for the first of a three-game series. Friday's opener is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Duke's Jack Coombs Field.