CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With third-seeded NC State (29-16) already secured into the ACC Tournament semifinals, six-seed North Carolina (27-25) used a hot start to punish the Wolfpack to conclude pool play at Truist Field, 9-6.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Andrew Tillery (1-1, 19.16 ERA) was the sacrificial lamb from State’s pitching staff. The Midland, Ga. native surrendered six runs in the first inning, four of which came from a grand slam by Mac Horvath, and got pulled without recording an out.

After Tillery’s abysmal outing, a trio of freshmen carried the Pack’s pitching. Right-hander Garrett Payne yielded three runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Righty Coby Ingle struck out four Tar Heel batters in four shutout innings. Southpaw John Miralia hurled the final two frames with one strikeout and one hit allowed.

With Carolina ahead by eight runs, the Pack plated its first three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore third baseman Vojtech Mensik and junior second baseman J.T. Jarrett reached base with back-to-back leadoff singles. Junior first baseman Austin Murr drove Mensik home with a fielder’s choice then moved to third on a double by sophomore center fielder Tyler McDonough.

Junior left fielder Jonny Butler walked to load the bases for junior designated hitter Terrell Tatum who walked to bring Murr home. Freshman shortstop Jose Torres then singled to drive McDonough home, but a strikeout and a pop-out left the bags full.

In the next inning, the Tar Heels put another run on the scoreboard, but the Pack answered with one of its own. Murr singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. After Murr moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, McDonough singled to bring the runner home.

State’s final pair runs came in an eighth-inning rally. Junior Devonte Brown led off with a single while Mensik followed suit with one of his own. Two batters later, the runners advanced to second and third on a groundout. Murr slapped a single to left field to plate Brown. McDonough followed with a double to drive Mensik home with Murr moving to third. Two strikeouts immediately afterward killed the rally, leaving Carolina with enough momentum to earn the win.

The Wolfpack will need to shake off the loss quickly as it takes on second-seeded Georgia Tech Saturday evening to determine who advances to the ACC Championship game. First pitch from Truist Field is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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