Freddy Zamora’s Walk-Off Blast Beats GT, 6-5
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – One swing of the bat by Miami’s Freddy Zamora turned Saturday’s game upside down and gave the Hurricanes a walk-off win over Georgia Tech, 6-5.
The Canes (11-3, 1-1 ACC) were down to their final strike on Saturday night inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. Freshman Jordan Lala was on first and Zamora had a full count against Yellow Jackets right-hander Keyton Gibson. The senior reliever hung a breaking ball that Zamora destroyed over the left field wall and sent the Hurricanes home victorious.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive,” Zamora said. “I tried to stay calm at the plate and not try to chase anything. I was just trying to get it to the next guy on the team and hopefully, he would come thru for us. The pitcher left a hanging slider that I was able to hit over the wall and the rest is history.”
Miami entered the bottom of the ninth in need of late-inning heroics. Georgia Tech (10-5, 1-1 ACC) rallied back three times against the Hurricanes on Saturday night and was in position to take the ACC-opening series from the homestanding Canes. But Zamora and the Hurricanes had other plans.
Dylan Cloonan, who crushed a game-tying pinch-hit homer in the seventh, worked a one-out walk to start building momentum for Miami in the bottom of the ninth. Lala reached on a fielder’s choice, sprinting down the line after a hard-hit grounder to first to prevent a double play. That set the stage for Zamora, Miami’s team MVP a year ago, to come to the plate with two outs and the game on the line.
“It’s the right guy,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “He had a huge night last night. I thought he played his best game last night, offensively and defensively, and then he comes back today and has three hits. I’m awfully glad he swung at that 3-1 pitch that was out of the zone so he stayed up there again and got to swing at that 3-2 pitch.”
Zamora was the hero in the ninth, but he also got Miami’s offense going in the first, smacking a two-out single to left and stealing second before Adrian Del Castillo ripped an RBI single to center that allowed Zamora to cruise home and put the Canes up, 1-0. Del Castillo’s base hit extended his hitting streak to 14 games to start his career, putting him one game behind Esteban Tresgallo’s 15-game streak from 2013.
“Freddy is a great player,” DiMare said. “I’ve said it to him before he can be one of the all-time greats if he wants to be. He’s the kind of guy that when the game is over he usually should be the best player on the field from both teams. That’s the kind of player he is. He plays with a lot of confidence and it seems to me like the game comes easy to him. He’s never overwhelmed by anything.”
The Canes added another run in the third when Raymond Gil drove home Lala with a two-out RBI single to right. An inning later, Hurricanes’ catcher Michael Amditis smashed a homer deep to left to open the bottom of the fourth that gave Miami starter Chris McMahon a 3-0.
The sophomore right-hander allowed a leadoff double to Luke Waddell to open the game before retiring the next 13 GT batters. McMahon cruised through the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth, but the sophomore pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve the three-run advantage.
Georgia Tech finally got to McMahon in the sixth, as Tristin English started a four-batter hit parade. Kyle McCann and Oscar Serratos followed with back-to-back doubles off McMahon that ended his night after 5.1 innings before he was lifted in favor of freshman JP Gates with the Hurricanes leading, 3-2.
Colin Hall singled off Gates to put runners at the corners with one out and Chase Murray hustled down the line to beat out a potential inning-ending double play. Instead, it was a fielder’s choice that allowed Serratos to score and tie the game at three and ensure that McMahon took his third consecutive no-decision.
An inning later, English ripped a double to the wall off reliever Greg Veliz. Miami elected to intentionally walk McCann to load the bases with one out. Veliz struck out Serratos, but opened the at-bat against Colin Hall with a wild pitch that allowed all three base runners to advance 90 feet and put the Yellow Jackets ahead, 4-3.
The lead would not last long, as Cloonan replaced Tony Jenkins and crushed a solo homer off Gibson to leadoff the bottom of the second and tie the game at four.
“He’s going to play tomorrow,” DiMare said of Cloonan. “Lefty, righty, it doesn’t matter. He deserves to play and I’m playing him. He deserves to play. He got an opportunity leading off the inning pinch-hitting for Jenkins and came through. He tied the game and it was huge. We were down a run and were a little deflated and that sparked us.”
But Georgia Tech’s bats heated up again in the top of the eighth against Tyler Keysor, with Murray leading off the frame with a double and Baron Radcliff singling him home to put the Yellow Jackets back ahead, 5-4.
Miami went down in order in the bottom of the eighth, but Keysor shut the Yellow Jackets down in the top of the ninth to keep the game close and the junior right-hander was rewarded with his second win of the season when Zamora belted his game-winning blast.
“Our team, we fight until the last out,” Zamora said. “Gino said in the dugout that this is the best sport because there is no time limit. You have to get the last out before you can win. This team is one that fights to the end and it’s a big difference from last year. It’s a big difference from last year. This year has been amazing the way we battle, stick through it and have confidence in ourselves.”
Sunday’s finale is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch and will feature Miami’s Brian Van Belle (2-1, 1.06 ERA) opposite Georgia Tech sophomore LHP Brant Hunter (0-1, 0.69 ERA).