Five Homers Power No. 19 Miami in 8-4 Win at Wake
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Miami Hurricanes flexed their muscles on Saturday evening, crushing five homers to beat Wake Forest 8-4.
The No. 19 Canes (36-15, 16-10 ACC) faced a 4-3 deficit entered the top of the eighth and belted three of their five homers to take a five-run lead against the homestanding Demon Deacons. Saturday marks the second five-homer game by the Hurricanes this season, matching the five hit in a 20-1 win over UMBC on March 3.
“The team doesn’t fold,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “You just never feel like they’re looking to hit that panic button. We’re down in the eighth inning there and before you know it, boom, boom, boom and we’re up with a four-run lead.”
Wake Forest closer William Fleming took the mound in the top of the eighth looking to protect a 4-3 lead, but Anthony Vilar and Adrian Del Castillo hit back-to-back 351-foot opposite-field solo homers to put the Hurricanes ahead, 5-4.
Miami added three more runs against Fleming in the eighth when Chad Crosbie crushed a 401-foot blast for his first career homer. The junior, who was in Saturday’s starting lineup because Gabe Rivera crashed into the outfield wall on Friday, made the most of his final at-bat of the day.
“This team is reminding me more and more of the 1999 team,” DiMare said. “We’ve had more guys go down than I can recall in many, many years and guys are just stepping up left and right. [Willy] Escala has played great defense at second and Vilar has played great at short. Crosbie has done a good job. All in all, it’s been a great team effort and everybody has been getting opportunities and making the most of them.”
Crosbie, who was robbed of his first career homer when Michael Ludowig climbed the right field wall in the top of the seventh, hit a no-doubter that gave Miami its first three-homer inning since hitting three in the top of the first at FAU on March 27.
Saturday’s game was a back-and-forth battle with four lead changes. Wake Forest’s offense got right to work against Miami starter Slade Cecconi. Leadoff man Michael Turconi opened the game with a triple off the wall in left-center and scored on an RBI groundout by Patrick Frick that gave Wake its first lead of the weekend, 1-0.
Miami slugger Alex Toral evened the score with one swing of the bat in the top of the second, crushing his 18thhomer of the season. The solo shot went over the scoreboard in right-center and had an exit velocity of 105 mph, traveling an estimated 411 feet to tie the game at 1.
Another long ball put Miami ahead, as Vilar hit a two-run opposite field homer off Wake starter Jared Shuster that gave the Hurricanes a 3-1 advantage. The blast was the first of two for the freshman on the day, as Vilar recorded the first multi-homer game of his career.
“I don’t worry about him and that’s amazing to say about a freshman,” DiMare said. “He had been struggling a little, but you don’t see it in his body language. He stayed on the ball better today and he was able to drive the ball. He was able to hit two balls away to the opposite field that he hit out of the park.”
JP Gates led off the sixth with a walk and Miami appeared poised to add to its lead, but Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter pulled Shuster in favor of right-hander Antonio Menendez and the reliever induced a double play and got a strikeout to thwart Miami’s momentum.
Wake opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back doubles from Chris Lanzilli and Bobby Seymour, with Seymour’s two-bagger driving in his ACC-best 79thRBI and bringing the Demon Deacons within one, 3-2.
Cecconi settled down and got two outs in the sixth before turning the ball over to Albert Maury, Jr. The redshirt sophomore threw a wild pitch that allowed Seymour to score and even the game at 3 and Logan Harvey hit an RBI double to center that drove in Bruce Steel to put the Demon Deacons back on top, 4-3.
“They took the early lead and we tied it up and we took the lead and then tied it up and went ahead,” DiMare said. “Just a great overall team win. Slade threw solid and you’d like to see the middle guys throw a little bit better, but we got the lead and put the guys in the back end in and they did a good job.”
But a resilient Miami team continued to fight and put up five runs against Wake Forest’s top reliever in the eighth before Gregory Veliz came in to record the final three outs and put the Hurricanes in position to go for a sweep on Monday.
Miami sophomore RHP Chris McMahon (2-2, 4.10 ERA) will make his first start since April 13, taking the mound Monday against freshman RHP Ryan Cusick (6-3, 6.43 ERA) on Monday at 7 p.m in a game that will be broadcasted on ESPN U.