CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — For 6.1 innings, North Carolina junior righthander Tyler Baum toyed with Auburn’s lineup. A second-round pick of the Athletics last week, Baum held Auburn to four hits and two earned runs, striking out seven and walking none.
Baum held his 90-94 mph velocity, touching 95 mph into the seventh inning. Through his first three hitless innings, he had four strikeouts and kept Auburn hitters off-balance with his curveball.
North Carolina coach Mike Fox said it was one of Baum’s better outings as a Tar Heel, thanks to the strength of his curveball and his ability to stay a step ahead of the hitters.
It was not one of the North Carolina bullpen’s better outings.
Redshirt freshman Austin Love came in to relieve Baum after Auburn managed to get two on in the seventh inning. He escaped that jam, but two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning reached before he was replaced by sophomore Joey Lancelotti.
Lancellotti has been a very reliable power reliever for the Tar Heels, but he gave up a double, uncorked a wild pitch and walked a batter, convincing Fox that he needed to turn to a third reliever.
Lancellotti was replaced by fellow righthander Hansen Butler. Butler walked the first batter he faced to load the bases and then gave up a bases-clearing double. What was a 5-2 Tar Heels lead to begin the inning had quickly turned in a 7-4 Auburn advantage.
Butler gave up two more walks, a single and a balk in the ninth inning before being pulled. Connor Ollio gave up a sacrifice fly that scored one run, and Caden O’Brien followed by giving up a three-run home run at the hands of Edouard Julien, stretching the lead to six runs.
The Tar Heels’ bullpen is usually a strength. It wasn’t on Saturday, but Fox said he’s confident in going back to the same guys again if needed on Sunday.
“We talk all the time about how you’re going to carry yourself when you leave here and what you’re going to say and what’s going to come out of your mouth,” Fox said. “You’ve got to be careful of the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve—we win as a team, we lose as a team. That’s been our bond, so I don’t have to say all that to them. Our guys will be ready tomorrow.”