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May 19, 2012

Brooms out for Hokies

CHAPEL HILL--- It wasn't perfection for Hobbs Johnson and the Tar Heels Saturday afternoon against Virginia Tech, but it was pretty darn close.

Johnson, a freshman left-hander, got the game's first 22 outs, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning.

Although VT rallied for three straight hits to end the perfect game and the shutout, the Diamond Heels cruised to a 6-2 triumph to sweep the Hokies and end its regular season record at 42-13 and 22-8 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The win is North Carolina's 13th straight heading into the postseason.

UNC struck early against Virginia Tech starter Marc Zecchino, as first baseman Cody Stubbs nearly decapitated him with a two-out base hit up the middle in the bottom of the second, scoring Jacob Stallings and giving Carolina a 1-0 advantage.

UNC could have made it worse in the second, but a diving catch by Hokies first baseman Ronnie Shaban saved at least one run.

Carolina scored again in the bottom of the third, as third baseman Colin Moran singled up the middle with two outs and Jacob Stallings, who was honored before the game on Senior Day, drove Moran in with a long double off the wall in deep left-center field.

The game quietly moved on until the bottom of the sixth, when Adam Griffin, a mid-inning outfield replacement for the Tar Heels, drove in Jordan Parks and Chaz Frank with a seeing-eye single up the middle, making the count 4-0.

UNC added to its lead again in the bottom of the seventh, as second baseman Tommy Coyle belted his fourth homer of the season to make it 6-0.

By that point the only drama left was whether or not Hobbs could attain perfection, but after coaxing a flyout for the first out of the top of the eighth, he gave up a grounder in the hole at second base that Coyle couldn't come up with, ending the no-hitter bid.

Nonetheless it was a remarkable outing for Johnson, who improved to 6-1 on the season while keeping his ERA well below 2.00. He entered the day with a 1.66 ERA.

R.C. Orlan and Michael Morin finished off the victory for the Diamond Heels, pitching a clean ninth inning in a non-save situation. Morin picked up the final out.

The Diamond Heels, who won the ACC's Coastal Division, now head to next week's ACC Tournament in Greensboro as the No. 2 seed.

Then it's on to the NCAA Regionals, of which the first Regional round will definitely be in Boshamer Stadium.

Given UNC's tremendous success in the regular season, they stand an excellent chance of earning a 'National Seed' in the NCAA Tournament, which would mean the Tar Heels would play another Super Regional in Chapel Hill as well.

Stay tuned for much more on UNC's sweep of the Hokies here at Tar Heel Illustrated, including photos and video highlights.

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