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No. 19 Miami Walks Off with Dramatic 4-3 Victory

May 6, 2012

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 R H E W: C. Diaz (1-1)
Wildcats 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 7 1 L: S. Garner (3-4)
Hurricanes 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 4 6 0  

2B: B. Fieger (10)
C. Mack (24), J. Mederos (12), M. Broad (26), A. Fernandez (1)| J. Johnson, N. Johnson

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The No. 19 Miami Hurricanes finished up their weekend at Alex Rodriguez Park on a high note Sunday afternoon, walking off with a dramatic victory and series sweep of Bethune-Cookman by a final score of 4-3.

After back-to-back singles from Stephen Perez and Dale Carey opened the last-effort threat in the bottom of the ninth, Wildcat reliever Scott Garner walked Chantz Mack to load the bases with only one out. Freshman Alexander Fernandez, who pinch-ran for Brad Fieger earlier in the game, recorded his first career RBI on a bases-loaded walk to tie the game up at 3-3.

In stepped Michael Broad, who connected on a shallow flyball off closer Jordan Dailey to centerfield that sent sophomore Dale Carey into a full-on sprint towards homeplate. The speedy Marietta, Ga. native snagged the plate with his left hand, maneuvering around Wildcat catcher Carlos Delgado to plate the winning run that sent his teammates into a frenzied celebration.

The Hurricanes might never have had a chance to walk off if not for another impressive outing from the team’s pitching staff. With normal Saturday starter Eric Whaley moved to Sunday’s series finale after suffering from flu-like symptoms, the Hurricanes (30-17, 12-12 ACC) needed a strong showing out of their junior righthander to finish off a sweep of the Wildcats. The Pompano Beach, Fla. native provided just that for the Canes, pitching seven innings and striking out five batters while allowing only five hits.

Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the team line-up struggled to generate any offense in support of Whaley. A day after recording only two hits in a 5-4 win, Miami registered only six baseknocks on Sunday afternoon through nine full innings. But aided by five walks from Wildcat pitchers, it was Miami who managed to strike in the very first inning with some patented Miami smallball.

After Perez reached on a wild pitch strikeout, Carey advanced the junior over on a perfect sacrifice bunt. Perez, the team leader in stolen bases, nabbed No. 15 of the year by taking third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Mack.

The Wildcats would respond two innings later, tying the game up at one run apiece on an RBI single from third baseman Nick Johnson. After Josh Johnson opened up the frame with a single to center, Whaley issued a walk to Brashad Johnson to give Bethune-Cookman two runners on base and only one out. After inducing a groundout of Delgado, Whaley allowed a single on the first pitch to Johnson that plated the tying run.

Miami would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, using more smallball to regain the lead. After junior lefthander Ali Simpson yielded back-to-back walks to Michael Broad and Rony Rodriguez, sophomore Tyler Palmer laid down another solid sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Jairo Acevedo, entering the game in relief of Simpson, then allowed a sacrifice fly to Jarred Mederos to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 advantage.

The Wildcats tied the game up in the top of the fifth, using an RBI single from Johnson that plated designated hitter Jake Welch. The seemingly deciding run was scored three innings later, when Bethune-Cookman used clever baserunning with two outs in the eighth to plate a run off reliever AJ Salcines. With runners on the corners, the sophomore attempted a pick-off move to first base. Josh Johnson took off from his perch at third base, sliding under the tag of catcher Alex San Juan to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.

But then came the late-inning outburst from the offense, who plated the game’s final two runs, including the game-winner on a sacrifice fly from Broad. With the win, the team improved to 24-3 all-time against Bethune-Cookman and earned their fifth weekend sweep of the year.

Miami will resume its conference schedule on Friday against Wake Forest, with first pitch set for 8 p.m.