ACC Baseball Championship 2022: Vance Honeycutt Homers Twice as UNC Clinches Title

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 29, 2022

North Carolina's Vance Honeycutt rounds the bases after a three-run home run against the NC State during the second inning in an NCAA college baseball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final Sunday, May 29, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

North Carolina completed its surprising run to an ACC baseball tournament title, defeating rival North Carolina State 9-5 in Sunday's championship game.

ACC Baseball @ACCBaseball

Carolina Ballgame. ⚾️🏆<br><br>2022 ACC Baseball Champions, <a href="https://twitter.com/DiamondHeels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DiamondHeels</a>! <a href="https://t.co/Ko68FQO42G">pic.twitter.com/Ko68FQO42G</a>

Vance Honeycutt stole the show for the Tar Heels with two two home runs and five RBI as the school earned its eighth conference title.

The ACC showcased its depth during a wild tournament at Truist Field in Charlotte. Eighth-seeded North Carolina and No. 10-seeded NC State advanced to the semifinals after upsets over Virginia Tech and Miami, respectively. 

The Tar Heels became the last team standing as they bring a lot of momentum into the NCAA tournament.

NC State struck first in the title game with a Josh Hood RBI single in the top of the first inning.

The lead didn't last long, however, with Honeycutt hitting a two-run home run in the first and a three-run homer in the second:

ACC Baseball @ACCBaseball

WE LOVE CHAMPIONSHIP HOMERS‼️<br><br>2-run shot for Honeycutt puts the Heels up 2 - 1‼️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ACCBASE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ACCBASE</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DiamondHeels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DiamondHeels</a> | 🏆 <a href="https://t.co/vehzW5Lbl3">pic.twitter.com/vehzW5Lbl3</a>

ACC Baseball @ACCBaseball

Anotha One. 🔥🔥🔥<br><br>Vance Honeycutt with his S E C O N D goner of the Championship Game!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ACCBASE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ACCBASE</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DiamondHeels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DiamondHeels</a> | 🏆 <a href="https://t.co/gM2ToDRl7N">pic.twitter.com/gM2ToDRl7N</a>

Aaron Fitt @aaronfitt

Honeycutt does it again, unreal. The <a href="https://twitter.com/DiamondHeels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DiamondHeels</a> freshman sensation greets Willadsen with a 3-run blast, and now it’s 8-1 Heels. That’s Honeycutt’s second 2-homer game of the week. Have yourself a game. Have yourself a tournament. Have yourself a darn season.

The clutch hitting is a continuation of an outstanding season for the freshman:

Carolina Baseball @DiamondHeels

Vance Honeycutt is the first 20-20 player in Carolina history.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreakinAwesome?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FreakinAwesome</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHeels?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHeels</a> <a href="https://t.co/oucOsOaIts">pic.twitter.com/oucOsOaIts</a>

Angel Zarate and Danny Serretti also drove in runs in the second inning, helping North Carolina build an early 8-1 advantage.

UNC starting pitcher Max Carlson did his part as well, putting several zeroes on the box score to hold a 9-1 lead through five. Though he ran into trouble in the sixth, he finished with three runs allowed in five-plus innings and six strikeouts with just one walk. He helped the home team build what became an insurmountable lead.

North Carolina State still gave everything it could to rally late, with a J.T. Jarrett two-run double cutting into the deficit. 

ACC Baseball @ACCBaseball

.<a href="https://twitter.com/JTjarrett10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JTjarrett10</a> cuts into the UNC lead with 2 run double!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ACCBASE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ACCBASE</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/NCStateBaseball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NCStateBaseball</a> | 🏆 <a href="https://t.co/v6mVCLgNlt">pic.twitter.com/v6mVCLgNlt</a>

Wolfpack pitcher Chris Villaman thrived with five perfect innings out of the bullpen, striking out eight with zero walks and zero hits allowed. 

Two runs in the ninth inning got NC State within four before Davis Palermo finally closed out the victory for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels struggled at times during the regular season, especially at the start of conference play, but the late surge could make the team dangerous in the NCAA tournament. With a conference title on the resume, the squad has a chance to host a regional.

NC State is expected to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and could still be a sleeper to make a deep run.