GUAYNABO, PUERTO RICO – Senior starting pitcher Kendra Lynch slugged two-run home runs in back-to-back at-bats and brought a 1-hit shutout into the top of the fifth to lead North Carolina to a 7-3 victory over ACC rival Georgia Tech on Sunday morning. After a slow start to the season, the Tar Heels closed the Puerto Rico DI Tournament with consecutive victories to finish the weekend 2-3 while the Yellow Jackets slipped to 0-5.
Lynch was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk, two home runs and four RBIs. It marked the second time in her career that she hit two balls out of the park, having also gone home run, home run, walk against Charlotte back on March 8, 2015. Junior Taylor Wike had a strong day at the plate as well, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run and two RBIs.
Lynch (1-1) limited Georgia Tech to one run on four hits and two walks over the 4.0+ innings with three strikeouts. Sydney Matzko took over with two runners on and nobody out in the bottom of the fifth and hurled three quality innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts to secure her first career save.
Brooke Barfield (0-3) started in the circle for Georgia Tech, but left after allowing five runs and seven hits over the first three innings. Barfield did strike out four Tar Heels without surrendering a walk. Jenna Goodrich stepped in to start the fourth inning and allowed the final two runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
The Tar Heels did not waste any time, collecting three extra-base hits in the top of the first to put up an early three spot. Murray got it started with a one-out triple to the gap in right center, then Wike drove her home with a double down the right-field line. Lynch then drilled the first Carolina homer of the season, going deep for a two-run shot to right to make it 3-0 Heels.
Delamora doubled with two outs in the top of the third, then Lynch did it again, crushing a two-run shot to right center to increase the lead to 5-0.
Carolina tacked on two more in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of some small ball and a pair of Yellow Jacket errors. Destiny DeBerry beat out a slap bunt for a leadoff single. She stole second and moved to third on a ground out. Wike followed with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, and as DeBerry sped home, Wike landed safely on first due to an overthrow by the first baseman. Another throwing error allowed Kristina Burkhardt to get all the way to second on a ground ball, scoring Delamora who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
Georgia Tech cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, leading off with three straight singles and chasing Lynch from the circle. Karissa Arnold got it started with a pinch hit single up the middle, then Crosby Huckabay singled through the right side. Draven Sonnon drove in the first GT run of the game with a single to right, forcing Lynch’s exit. Sydney Matzko entered the game and retired three of the next four batters without allowing a base hit to strand the bases loaded and keep the Yellow Jackets from doing further damage.
GT chipped away further at the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Krzus lead off with a single, then Rebecca Prairie laid down a sacrifice bunt but beat it out for a single. A passed ball put them both in scoring position, then Arnold drove Krzus home with a single to left. Sonnon grounded into a double play, but another Yellow Jacket came in to score before Matzko struck out Kelsey Chisholm to end the inning.
Matzko held the Yellow Jackets without a hit in the bottom of the seventh, securing the 7-3 victory with her first career save.
The Tar Heels return home on Wednesday, Feb. 15, to host Elon University in the 2017 home opener. First pitch at Anderson Stadium is set for 4 p.m.