Mac Horvath is coming off one of the best weeks of the season in college baseball, and his monster performance could be what North Carolina needs to spark a late run to a sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Horvath hit three homers, including a grand slam, and drove in 11 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Virginia Tech on Sunday. He was 9 of 16 with five homers and 19 RBIs as the Tar Heels went 3-1 last week.
The third baseman was draft-eligible as a sophomore last year but made it known he planned to return to school unless a team offered a signing bonus too good to turn down.
His 2023 draft stock surely rose after a week that left him with him with 19 homers and 56 RBIs, both team highs, and a .316 batting average and .751 slugging percentage.
The Tar Heels made it to an NCAA super regional in Scott Forbes’ second season since taking over for Mike Fox, and they were picked third in the ACC Coastal Division in the preseason.
But they lost two of three to Miami and were swept by Boston College before they won two of three at Virginia Tech. The series win got the Tar Heels (28-16, 11-11) back to .500 in conference play. They were listed as one of the first five teams out of the NCAA Tournament in the latest D1Baseball.com projections. They haven’t missed the national tournament since 2016.
“When nobody believed in us, our guys believed in themselves and we believed in them as coaches,” Forbes said. “We’ve had a tough couple of weeks. You look at close losses to Miami and Boston College, and for guys to come back and wins two games in a doubleheader after losing game one at Virginia Tech is a testament to the player-led leadership. Mac Horvath put us on his back and led the way.”
Horvath opened last week with a two-homer, eight-RBI game in an 18-2 win over UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday. He was 1 for 4 in a 7-1 loss to Virginia Tech on Friday, then got hot again in the 12-8 and 13-7 wins Sunday.
North Carolina, which is off this weekend, closes the regular season with ACC series against rival North Carolina State at home and on the road against Clemson.
IN THE POLLS
LSU (35-8) strengthened its season-long hold on No. 1 with three wins over Alabama that, for the first time since 2017, gave the Tigers back-to-back SEC sweeps and seven straight conference wins.
D1Baseball.com, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper also agree on Wake Forest (37-6) as the No. 2 team following the Demon Deacons’ three nonconference wins last week, including an 11-1 rout of a top-10 Coastal Carolina.
D1Baseball ranks South Carolina (35-8) third. Vanderbilt (32-11) is No. 3 in the other polls.
PAC-12 IN SPOTLIGHT
This week sets up as one of the biggest of the season in the tightly bunched Pac-12, with first-place Stanford (28-13, 15-6) visiting second-place Arizona State (29-15, 14-6) in the featured series.
Third-place Oregon (30-13, 13-8), two games off the lead, travels to Southern California (25-17-1, 11-10) and fourth-place Oregon State (30-13, 14-10) hosts Utah (18-24-1, 7-16-1).
Stanford won two of three over UCLA this past weekend to take sole possession of first place. Alberto Rios’ eighth-inning grand slam produced a 10-7 series-clinching victory Sunday and marked the sixth time the Cardinal had won after trailing in the seventh inning or later.
GA SOUTHERN OUTBURST
Georgia Southern set a school record and tied the national season high for runs in a 35-8 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Jarrett Brown, who had been 3 for his last 22 when he went to bat in the third inning, finished 6 for 8 with a home run and eight RBIs and a steal of home. Blake Evans was 5 for 6 with six RBIs and had two of the Eagles’ six homers.
The Eagles’ previous record for runs was 34 against NJIT in 2007. Their 27 hits against ULM tied the school record.
Jackson Emus and two relievers combined for Princeton’s first no-hitter since 2008 in a 9-1 win over Yale on Saturday.
Emus struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings but gave up a run in the sixth when he issued one of his four walks and hit a batter before a sacrifice fly. Jacob Faulkner went 1 1/3 innings and Justin Kim pitched the ninth to finish the eighth Division I no-hitter this season.
Princeton won the first game of the doubleheader 8-0 on Tom Chmielewski’s second shutout and third complete game of the season. Chmielewski carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.