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LSU falls to North Carolina in Chapel Hill Regional

On3 imageby:Matthew Brune06/01/24

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LSU was unable to pull off another late comeback on the Chapel Hill Regional on Saturday night, losing to No. 4 North Carolina 6-2 on the back of a two home-run game from centerfielder Vance Honeycutt, who had four RBIs.

North Carolina improved to 44-13 on the season, while LSU dropped to 41-22 on the year.

The Tigers are now scheduled to face Wofford at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday in an elimination game with the winner set to meet North Carolina at 5 p.m. CT on Sunday to stay alive and force a winner-take-all game on Monday.

If North Carolina wins Sunday’s second game, the Tar Heels are the regional champions. If LSU or Wofford win Sunday’s nightcap, it would face North Carolina again on Monday in a winner-take-all regional championship game at a time to be announced.

Honeycutt collected four RBI Saturday with a three-run homer and a solo dinger, increasing his season home run total to 24.

North Carolina reliever Ben Peterson (2-2) was credited with the win, as he worked 2.0 innings and allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and one strikeout.

LSU starting pitching Luke Holman (9-4) was charged with the loss after limiting North Carolina to four runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

Reliever Dalton Pence earned his seventh save of the season, firing 2.2 scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

North Carolina starting pitcher Shea Sprague pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“Sprague is tough; he has a good change-up,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “One of the better ones I’ve seen in a while, to be honest. I thought we did a great job of making him work. He was out of the game before the fifth inning. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.

“It was a good effort by Carolina’s pitching staff tonight. That’s why they’re a good team.”

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Honeycutt launched a three-run home to give the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead.

LSU plated two runs in the seventh when first baseman Jared Jones and pinch hitter Ethan Frey each drew bases-loaded walks.

Honeycutt, however, homered in the seventh inning to extend North Carolina’s lead to 4-2.

The Tar Heels added two runs in the eighth as third baseman Gavin Gallaher lined an RBI single, and second baseman Alex Madera drove in a run with a bases-loaded groundout.

“I have complete confidence in our players and their ability to respond positively to adversity,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been so excited to have the chance to play a doubleheader as I am about that opportunity tomorrow.”

*LSU press release

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