Hurricanes Drop Heartbreaker in Blacksburg
April 15, 2012
|8||9||R||H||E||W: J. Joyce (3-0)|
|Hurricanes||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||2||4||0||L: E. Encinosa (2-2)|
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Sunday’s rubber match between the sixth-ranked Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies turned into a pitcher’s duel at English Field, as the Hurricanes dropped the series finale in heartbreaking fashion by a final score of 3-2.
After taking their first lead of the game in the top of the ninth on a two-RBI single from outfielder Chantz Mack, the Hokies struck for two runs of their own off closer E.J. Encinosa (2-2), who was charged with a blown save. Mike Zagunis’ RBI single through the right side of the infield gave the Hokies their second straight walk-off win and the series victory.
After earning the win in his last outing against North Carolina, junior southpaw Steven Ewing was sharp once again on Sunday afternoon. The Orlando, Fla. native, who struck out a season-high nine batters last weekend, followed up with another stellar showing against a strong Hokies line-up. Ewing allowed only one hit through his eight innings of work, striking out seven batters while walking only one.
One of the few blemishes for Ewing came in the third inning, when Hokies’ first baseman Brendon Hayden launched the first pitch he saw from the lefthander into the visitor’s bullpen, giving Virginia Tech a 1-0 lead. The homerun would be the only hit Ewing would allow all day, as he set down the next 17 batters before issuing an eighth-inning walk to Zagunis.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Hokies’ rigthhander Andrew Aizenstadt was equally as effective in the series finale. After allowing a single to Chantz Mack in the second inning, the redshirt senior would not surrender another hit until the sixth on a single from Garrett Kennedy. Aizenstadt allowed only six baserunners through his eighth innings of work, striking out a season-high seven batters while issuing only two walks.
One of those free passes came in the ninth, as Aizenstadt issued a full-count walk to Dale Carey. The righthander then plunked Peter O’Brien on the hand, and was subsequently pulled in favor of reliever Jake Joyce. Brad Fieger would load the bases on a perfect bunt down the third base line before Mack connected for the two-RBI single to right-center, plating both Carey and pinch-runner Michael Broad. Joyce would retire Stephen Perez, Julian Santos and Jarred Mederos in order, however, to limit the damage and maintain the 2-1 deficit.
Coming off a week where he earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors, Encinosa entered the game and promptly allowed a single to Alex Perez and then plunked lead-off hitter Gabe Ortiz. After a bunt by Johnny Morales loaded the bases, Encinosa then hit his second batter of the inning, this time Hokies slugger Tyler Horan, to tie the game up at two runs apiece. Zagunis then delivered the knockout blow on a game-winning single to right field, sending the Hokies to their first series victory over the Hurricanes since 2010.
The Hurricanes return home to Coral Gables for a tilt with visiting Stetson University on Wednesday, April 18. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Steven Ewing enjoyed perhaps his best start of the season, allowing only one hit through his eight innings of work while walking one batter. He struck out seven Hokies batters and lowered his ERA under two runs to an impressive 1.95.
Coming Up Big
Chantz Mack had another big game for the Hurricanes, plating his ninth and tenth RBI’s of the past week with his two-run single in the ninth. Mack finished the weekend 5-for-14 (.357) with four runs batted in.
Switch It Up
Julian Santos and Garrett Kennedy were both inserted into the series finale line-up. Santos, making the start in left field, finished 0-for-4, while Kennedy finished 1-for-2 with a single and a walk.