Eighth-Inning Rally Propels Baseball to 9-5 W
|W – B. Garcia (5-2)||1.1||1||0||0||0||1|
|L – A. Bettinger (4-4)||0.1||2||4||3||1||0|
|UM – D. Thompson||4||1||1||2||0||0|
|UM – G. Kennedy||4||1||1||3||0||1|
DURHAM, N.C. – Second-seeded Miami opened its run at the 2015 ACC Baseball Championship in thrilling fashion Wednesday afternoon, erasing a late deficit to take a 9-5 win over No. 7 seed Virginia.
Trailing 5-2 and down to their last six outs, the Hurricanes came up with seven runs in the decisive inning to regain a late lead and secure their 13th straight victory.
“For us to come back today and win was a huge effort by our guys, after we surrendered a lead in the sixth,” head coach Jim Morris said. “It was a great effort to come back and put that seven-spot up. A lot of guys contributed to that.”
First-team All-ACC selection David Thompson delivered the go-ahead hit on a two-RBI single to center to make it 6-5, while third-team All-ACC catcher Garrett Kennedy belted a three-run home run to right to pad Miami’s newfound lead to 9-5.
“It doesn’t get any better than that. Coach Morris brought us together before the inning started and told us, ‘We can score some runs here. We just have to stay confident, stay positive and have some fun,'” Thompson said. “That’s what we did.”
The home run was the seventh of the season for Kennedy.
“He threw a fastball up in the zone the pitch before, and I swung through it,” Kennedy said. “I thought that he might come back with it, and I wasn’t going to let it beat me a second time.”
Bryan Garcia (5-2), who entered in the top half of the eighth with two runners in scoring position and got out of the jam, induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the game in front of 2,774.
Virginia (34-20) struck for three runs in the sixth and two more in the eighth, overcoming a 2-0 Miami lead in the game’s late innings in the Pool B opener for both teams.
The Hurricanes (43-13) struggled to sustain any offense against Virginia righthander Connor Jones, who tossed 7.1 dominant innings before being tagged for two of Miami’s seven eighth-inning runs.
It was Miami who opened the scoring early, tagging Jones for an unearned run in the first inning. Junior George Iskenderian connected on a two-out single to open the action, and would take second on an errant throw from Jones on a pick-off attempt.
Sophomore Zack Collins then connected on an RBI single to left-center, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games and giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes doubled their lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from junior Ricky Eusebio.
With runners on the corners after a leadoff walk from sophomore Willie Abreu and an error by the Virginia defense on a hard-hit ball from junior Brandon Lopez, Eusebio lifted a pitch to deep center to give Miami a 2-0 lead.
After a double by Virginia cleanup hitter Kenny Towns to open the second, Woodrey would not allow another hit until a sixth-inning single from Daniel Pinero that put two runners aboard to set up a scoring opportunity.
Towns came through for the Cavaliers, connecting on a three-run home run over the wall in left field to put Virginia up 3-2.
Woodrey retired the next batter on a groundout before exiting after 5.2 solid innings.
Sophomore righthander Cooper Hammond entered and tossed 1.2 scoreless innings, before a Joe McCarthy two-RBI double off freshman lefthander Michael Mediavilla bumped the Cavaliers’ lead to 5-2 in the eighth.
Miami would not be discouraged.
Christopher Barr opened the scoring in the next-half inning, singling in Heyward to cut into the deficit. A grounder from Iskenderian was mishandled by Virginia second baseman Matt Thaiss to score Eusebio and make it 5-4.
Zack Collins then walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Thompson, who extended far over the plate to loop one into left.
“With two strikes, I was trying to put the ball in play,” Thompson said. “I kept my hands back, stuck my butt out and poked it over the shortstop’s head.”
The two-RBI single extended Thompson’s RBI lead nationwide, bringing his total to a whopping 80.
After a second-inning infield single from Willie Abreu, Jones did not surrender a hit until the eighth-inning single from Heyward that jumpstarted the eventual winning rally.
“Jacob did a great job to get the inning started, and we just kept pouring it on from there,” Thompson said.
Head coach Jim Morris said afterwards he was impressed with his team’s resiliency.
“It was a great game. Virginia has a very good club,” head coach Jim Morris said. “They’ve been tough on us, and been one of the best clubs in the ACC for awhile.”
Miami returns to Durham Bulls Athletic Park Friday for a matchup with NC State. First pitch for the game, slated for broadcast on RSN (ESPN3 simulcast), 560 WQAM and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 7 p.m.