CHAPEL HILL --- North Carolina scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to beat visiting Elon 5-4 Wednesday evening in non-conference action at Boshamer Stadium. Landon Lassiter's bases-loaded single plated Michael Russell with the winning run for the Tar Heels, who will travel to Charlottesville, Va., this weekend to take on top-ranked Virginia.
Lassiter, Tom Zengel and Tyler Ramirez each had two hits as Carolina won for the fifth time in seven games to improve to 22-15 on the year. Elon, which entered Wednesday with a 23-0 record when leading after eight innings, fell to 23-14.
Spencer Trayner (2-2) retired all six batters he faced to get the win, while Elon closer Ryan Pennell (1-2) got just one out in allowing three runs in the ninth.
Elon jumped out to a three-run lead against UNC starter A.J. Bogucki. After an unearned run in the second made it 1-0, Mick Zammarelli's two-run single in the fourth pushed the Phoenix advantage to 3-0.
Meanwhile, Elon's Jake Stalzer kept the Tar Heels at bay through four scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen after just 53 pitches. Carolina got to Dimitri Lettas for two runs in the sixth when Wood Myers doubled home Brandon Whiteford and Lassiter singled home Myers.
But the Phoenix immediately responded for a run off Trevor Kelley in the seventh and looked poised for more when Reilly Hovis took over with runners on the corners and nobody out. But the sophomore stopper got a shallow fly to center for the first out and then struck out Sebastian Gomez and Tucker Norton to escape with the deficit still just two runs.
The Tar Heel 'pen would need some more magic in the eighth when Trayner entered the game with a runner on second and no outs. But the freshman right-hander got a fly to right for the first out and Lassiter made a great play on a hard grounder for out No. 2. Trayner then struck out Zammarelli to strand the insurance run at third before working a 1-2-3 ninth to set the stage for the offensive heroics.
Ramirez led off against Pennell with a perfect bunt single and moved to second on an error. Russell then bunted and Zammarelli threw wide of first to score Ramirez and move the tying run to third in the form of Alex Raburn. After a Myers sac fly tied it, Pennell walked Skye Bolt and Colby Barnette to set up a bases-loaded opportunity for Lassiter. After fouling off a pair of 3-2 pitches, Lassiter drove a ball to deep center for a game-winning RBI single.
Elon outfielder Casey Jones extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a double in the fifth, while Ryan Cooper had two hits and an RBI.
Carolina returns to Atlantic Coast Conference action this weekend at No. 1 Virginia. That series will begin Friday night at 6 p.m. with UNC's first regional television appearance of the season to follow Saturday at 1 p.m.