UNC wins College World Series opener after learning of death of former pitcher

OMAHA, Neb. -- North Carolina coach Mike Fox said the Tar Heels played with "heavy hearts" on Saturday in their College World Series-opening, 8-6 victory over Oregon State after learning of the death of former UNC pitcher Zach Attianese.

Attianese and his father, Jude Attianese, were involved in a six-vehicle crash late Friday on I-75 in Michigan, according to a report by My Central Jersey. Fox said he learned of their deaths from Sal Martorano, the father of North Carolina third baseman Brandon Martarano.

Brandon Martorano and Zach Attianese were friends since childhood, Fox said.

"Zach was a great kid," Fox said, fighting back tears to conclude his postgame media conference at TD Ameritrade Park. "That was our pregame meal this morning, me having to tell our team.

"I want to let the Attianese family know how much the Carolina baseball family is thinking of them. And I want to give a shout out to Brandon Martorano, because I know that was mighty hard for him to do."

Martorano scored two runs in the North Carolina victory.

Attianese, a left-hander from Old Bridge, New Jersey, pitched in nine games in 2017 for the Tar Heels. He played at the State College of Florida this year and was named the Suncoast Conference pitcher of the year after winning 10 games on the mound.

He had signed to play next year at Florida State.

"Our prayers go out to Zach's mom, Natalie, and his sisters, Ashley and Sabrina, as they endure this heartbreaking tragedy," FSU coach Mike Martin said in a statement released by the school. "Zach was a wonderful young man with a bright future that was sadly stripped away. We will continue to have the Attianese family in our thoughts."

Attianese was a star baseball player at Old Bridge High School in Matawan, New Jersey. Schools superintendent David Cittadino told My Central Jersey counselors will be available for students, staff and community members next week.

"As a father and an educator, the news of Zach Attianese and Jude Attianese's passing is hauntingly tragic," Cittadino said. "Zach and his dad were deeply connected to the Old Bridge school-community. I can see their images in my mind attending numerous events together since Zach was a young boy."