Veliz Dominant in Series-Clinching, 3-1 Victory
By Camron Ghorbi
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – On a night when eight seniors were honored during the final regular season series of their Miami careers, it was a freshman who shined brightest in a series-clinching win.
Righthander Greg Veliz was electric from the outset Friday on the way to a 13-strikeout, eight-inning performance, leading Miami (27-25, 15-13 ACC) to a 3-1 win over Virginia Tech in the second game of a doubleheader.
Veliz (5-4), who struggled last week in a doubleheader at No. 10 Virginia, had more strikeouts than any Hurricane in any appearance this season to lead Miami to its third straight win.
“First pitch strikes, getting ahead in counts and getting my breaking ball over,” Veliz said about the keys to his successful outing.
It was the longest career outing for Veliz, who was efficient and issued zero walks for the first time in his career.
The impressive performance followed a 4-2 win in Game 1, which featured similarly sound baseball by the Hurricanes.
“It was a big day for us, winning the doubleheader,” head coach Jim Morris said. “In the first game we had some great efforts. The second game, Veliz threw outstanding. It’s the best I’ve seen him throw and the hardest I’ve seen him throw. He was at 96 to 97 [miles per hour] all night.”
Veliz said it was the most strikeouts he had totaled since his youth baseball days, when he piled up 16 as a 12-year-old in Key West, Fla. He wasn’t focused on that during his 105-pitching, he said.
“I didn’t try and worry about it – just onto the next batter,” he said.
Sophomore closer Frankie Bartow entered in the ninth and, despite loading the bases, came up with an inning-ending lineout to seal the win in front of 2,737 fans.
The save was the 12th of the season for Bartow.
One of the seniors recognized in pregame ceremonies, catcher Joe Gomez, cranked his third home run of the year to open the scoring in the third.
The Wellington, Fla., native sent the fourth pitch he saw from Virginia Tech starter Kit Scheetz just inside the foul pole in left to put Miami on top 1-0.
The Hurricanes weren’t done there, adding a run later in the inning on an RBI single from Michael Burns that scored fellow junior Carl Chester from second.
Chester extended his hitting streak to eight games in a 2-for-4 performance.
Scheetz (4-3) went 7.2 innings for the Hokies (23-31, 9-20 ACC), striking out a career-high 10 batters.
Trailing 2-0, Virginia Tech got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single from junior Tom Stoffel.
Burns came up with a big throw, however, hosing the runner at third to end the inning and hold the scoring to one run.
The Hurricanes immediately responded in the home half of the inning.
Burns roped the first pitch he saw from Scheetz down the left field line for a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single from sophomore slugger Romy Gonzalez.
Veliz ended his outing with a swinging strikeout of pinch hitter Steve Mangrum on a 97-mile-per-hour fastball, celebrating with an emphatic fist pump and exiting to a standing ovation.
With his home run in the third, Gomez reached base for the 18th straight game.
Even more impressively, however, was Gomez catching every inning of a doubleheader behind the plate for the second time this season.
“Just winning games – good team wins,” Gomez said when asked about the team’s mindset. “Take it one game at a time and do what we have to do.”
Miami will wrap its regular season on Saturday with the series finale against Virginia Tech. First pitch for the contest, slated for broadcast on ACC Network Extra and 560 WQAM, is set for 1 p.m.