CHAPEL HILL --- Trent Thornton matched a career high with 10 strikeouts over eight shutout innings and Tyler Ramirez hit a grand slam for his first home run as a Tar Heel as No. 29 North Carolina beat Wake Forest 9-0 Friday night at Boshamer Stadium. Thornton allowed just two hits and the Carolina offense took advantage of eight Wake Forest walks as UNC improved to 20-14 and 8-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Thornton and Wake starter Jack Fischer (4-3) traded zeroes for the first three innings before the Tar Heel bats came alive in the fourth. After a leadoff single by Tom Zengel, Landon Lassiter reached on a four-pitch walk to put two on with nobdoy out. Parks Jordan then pushed a perfect bunt down the third base line for a hit and when Will Craig's throw sailed wide of first, Zengel came around to score Carolina's first run of the game.
Korey Dunbar's RBI groundout made it 2-0 after four, but it was his bases-loaded walk in the fifth that turned the tide permanently in favor of Carolina. Wood Myers led off the fifth with a double off the wall and Fischer's day was done after walking Skye Bolt and hitting Zengel. Demon Deacon reliever Matt Pirro got two quick outs and was on the verge of escaping before Dubar drew a six-pitch walk to push the Tar Heel lead to 3-0.
Ramirez then broke the game open with his first career home run, a laser out to right that was Carolina's third grand slam of 2014.
From there it was all Thornton, who matched his career high from earlier this season with 10 strikeouts and allowed a season-low two hits. The sophomore righty's stuff was electric all night, and he got his final two Ks in the eighth before giving way to Trevor Kelley. Kelley, who threw just one pitch in Wednesday's loss to Coastal Carolina, worked a perfect ninth to get Carolina back to .500 in league play for the first time since late March.
Myers, Jordan and Ramirez each had two hits for the Tar Heels, who will look to Benton Moss as they try to secure a series win in game two of the series Saturday night at 6.
Carolina players will also be participating in the annual Vs. Cancer head-shaving ceremony Saturday at 1 p.m. prior to the Spring Football Game. That event will take place outside of the Kenan Football Center at the new Tar Heel Town location.