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Walk-Off Grand Slam Helps UNC Avoid Massive Upset

 Julian Guilarte  |    Jun 1st, 2024 10:22am EDT

Image courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Long Island University had the No. 4 ranked team in Division I Baseball, North Carolina (UNC Tar Heels), on the ropes in Chapel Hill in Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium on Friday, May 31. LIU was up 8-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, on the first day of the Regionals.

North Carolina is the fifth ACC team to host a Regional, the most in the Division I Baseball Tournament this season.

LIU plays in the North East Division, and they went 24-9 in conference play with an overall record of 33-24. North Carolina went 22-8 in the ACC and 43-13 overall. This was a one-seed vs. four-seed matchup and a true David and Gilotah matchup. There were four lead changes in North Carolina’s 11-8 win against LIU.

UNC took an early 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI single from designated hitter Alberto Osuna. LIU responded with three runs in the third to take a 3-1 lead. First baseman JC Navarro hit a three-run home run.

UNC third baseman Gavin Gallager hit a solo home run in the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-2. Gallager had a massive day with four hits, two home runs, and six RBI. He was the best player on the field by far.

Gallager tied it up with an RBI double in the fifth. Later in the inning, UNC took the lead on a two-run single from second baseman Alex Madera. UNC was up 5-3 going into the sixth. LIU got one run in the eighth on a home run from pinch hitter Mathew McGurk.

They trailed 5-4 going into the ninth. The LIU bats put up four runs to take an 8-5 lead. LIU was down to their final out when Navaro hit an RBI double to tie the game. A three-run home run from center fielder Jacob Pipercici capped off their inning.

Anthony Donofrio got a single, his fourth hit of the game. Osuna got another RBI in the ninth on an infield single to make it an 8-6 game. Catcher Luke Stevenson walked to cut the deficit to 8-7. Gallager finished off his tremendous day with a walk-off grand slam.

UNC stole the game and advanced to the winner’s bracket, while LIU will play in the loser’s bracket. The games will take place on Saturday, June 1. If UNC wins, they will be one win away from advancing to the Super Regionals, and LIU will be eliminated from the Regionals with a loss.

Chapel Hill Regional Schedule: Saturday, June 1

No.4 LIU vs No.3 Wofford at noon EST on ESPN+

No. 2 LSU vs No.1 North Carolina 5:00 p.m EST on ESPN 2/ESPN+

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Julian Guilarte