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Honeycutt's 9th-inning hit gives North Carolina win over Virginia at CWS

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Vance Honeycutt’s single brought home Jackson Van De Brake from third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and North Carolina pulled out yet another win in its last at-bat, a 3-2 walk-off victory over Virginia in the College World Series opener on Friday.

The Tar Heels (48-14) advanced to play Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s Bracket 1 game between Florida State and Tennessee. Virginia (46-16) meets the Florida State-Tennessee loser in an elimination game Sunday.

Four of North Carolina’s six wins in the NCAA Tournament have come on its final at-bat. Virginia has lost five straight CWS games since 2021, each of the last three by one run.

Van De Brake, a .194 hitter whose last hit came on May 23, pinch hit for Alberto Osuna to start the bottom of the ninth and punched a liner inside the right-field line for a double off Chase Hungate.

Van De Brake moved to third on Alex Madera’s sacrifice bunt, and Colby Wilkerson fouled out to the catcher to bring up projected first-round draft pick Honeycutt.

Virginia coach Brian O’Connor elected to have Hungate (7-2) pitch to Honeycutt rather than intentionally walk him. Honeycutt drove a 2-1 pitch just over shortstop Griff O’Ferrall’s glove into left field, bringing Van De Brake home and prompting the rest of the Tar Heels to pour out of the dugout to mob Honeycutt behind second base.

Honeycutt accounted for a walk-off win in the super regional opener last week against West Virginia, homering in the bottom of the ninth.

Dalton Pence (5-1) came on for Matt Poston after Virginia went up 2-1 on Griff O’Ferrall’s sacrifice fly in the sixth. Pence (5-1) allowed no hits over 3 1/3 innings and stretched his NCAA Tournament shutout innings streak to 12 1/3.

Virginia came to Omaha batting .336, second nationally, and averaging 9.4 runs per game. The Cavaliers matched their season low with five hits, left 10 runners on base and were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Twelve of the Cavaliers last 13 batters failed to reach base.


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