No. 17 Miami Drops Finale at Wake, 9-7
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Miami Hurricanes were six outs away from a sweep at Wake Forest and first place in the ACC Coastal division, but a late rally by the Demon Deacons helped Wake avoid a sweep in their final home series of the season.
No. 17 Miami (36-16, 16-11 ACC), who climbed as high as No. 12 in one poll released on Monday, played outstanding baseball for the first 25 innings of this weekend’s series. But Wake Forest (29-22, 13-14 ACC) took advantage of opportunities in the eighth and put up five runs to win, 9-7, inside David F. Couch Ballpark.
“Disappointing,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “We had a chance to sweep and put ourselves in the driver’s seat to win our side in the division.”
The Hurricanes appeared poised for a sweep, having scored an insurance run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Alex Toral that gave them a 6-4 lead. The two-run advantage was handed to sophomore Daniel Federman to protect, but the right-hander got off to a rocky start.
“We walked the leadoff guy and then we got a flyout and we had the next guy with one out and a man on first with an 0-2 and we hit him,” DiMare said. “It should have been two outs. He was 0-2 and had chased a couple breaking balls down and away and we threw a fastball inside and hit him. You’re giving free passes to guys and, of course, the ball flies here.”
ACC RBI leader Bobby Seymour redeemed himself for his bases-loaded popout that ended the bottom of the sixth by smacking a two-run double to center that evened the game at 6 and made him the national leader in runs batted in with 81.
“Not a pretty game,” DiMare said. “Too many passed balls and we didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays. We walked six guys. We swung the bat okay and scored some runs. We should have won the game because we had a two-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth.”
Shane Muntz followed with a two-run homer to right that was the first home run by a Wake Forest player all series and put the Demon Deacons up, 8-6. One pitch later, Michael Ludowig hit a solo shot to extend the Wake lead to three and end Federman’s night. Freshman Bailey Mantilla retired the only two batters he faced to send Miami to the ninth chasing a three-run deficit.
“We held them down for two games and we held them down pretty much there until the end until they put up that five-spot and that’s the inning that killed us,” DiMare said.
The Hurricanes have fought back numerous times throughout the season, including a late-inning five-run rally against William Fleming in Saturday’s win at Wake Forest. Tony Jenkins started the top of the ninth with a leadoff triple off reliever Antonio Menendez and scored on an RBI groundout by pinch hitter Isaac Quiñones.
Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter turned to Fleming with one out in the inning looking to shut the door, but Miami got a pair of runners on with two outs in the inning as Anthony Vilar and Adrian Del Castillo walked to bring the tying run to the plate.
Michael Amditis, who had been one of Miami’s hottest hitters over the past week, hit a hard grounder right at third baseman Bruce Steel who stepped on the bag to retire Vilar on a force out and send the game.
Early on, it appeared like Miami was headed towards its second consecutive ACC series sweep. The Canes’ bats got going in the top of the second, as Alex Toral hit the first pitch he saw from Wake Forest starter Ryan Cusick 445 feet for a two-run homer. The blast, which had an exit velocity of 107 mph, was Toral’s 19thof the season and the Hurricanes’ 69thhomer of the year. Miami hit just 23 homers a season ago.
Wake Forest answered in the bottom of the second, scoring on an RBI single through the left side by Brendan Tinsman. But that was all the Demon Deacons could muster against Miami starter Chris McMahon. The sophomore looked strong in his first start since April 13, hitting 97 miles-per-hour on the radar gun and allowing one run while scattering three hits and striking out three over 2.2 innings pitched.
“It was great to see,” DiMare said. “I knew the ball was jumping out of his hand. He looked good. That was typical Chris where the ball was coming out of his hand nice and free and easy and hard. He looked loose and I thought he looked really good.”
Miami’s bats racked up three more hits, including an RBI single to right from Willy Escala that knocked Cusick out of the game after 3.2 innings pitched. Lefty reliever Carter Bach threw a wild pitch and then a passed ball that got back Tinsman allowed Jenkins to score and give Miami a 4-1 lead.
Michael Turconi and the Demon Deacons were happy to see a new pitcher on the mound after McMahon. Turconi, who struck out twice against McMahon, brought Wake Forest within one with a two-out, two-run single thru the left side. The freshman fisted a 2-2 pitch between the shortstop and third baseman to drive home Steel and Ludowig.
An inning later Ludowig tied the game with a fielder’s choice to short that drove in Seymour, who started the rally with a one-out single and advanced to second on a passed ball before moving to third on a base hit to right by Shane Muntz to put him 90 feet from home plate ahead of Ludowig’s at-bat.
Keysor was in another jam in the bottom of the sixth, as Wake loaded the bases with two outs and Seymour stepped to the plate. The sophomore popped out to foul territory just beyond the third base bag to strand three of his teammates and keep the game tied.
Miami’s bats came alive again in the top of the seventh, as Jordan Lala ripped a ball past Seymour at first that rolled to the right field corner for the freshman’s first triple. Tyler Witt, who had stymied Miami’s bats out of the bullpen, threw a wild pitch that allowed Lala to sprint home and put Miami ahead, 5-4
The Canes got out of another jam in the seventh, as Wake got two on with no outs against Albert Maury, Jr. Mark Mixon came in and retired Steel and Tinsman before Jeremy Cook got pinch hitter Christian Long to hit a slow chop to short that Vilar charged and fired to first to retire the speedy Long just before his foot hit the bag.
Toral drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly to deep right field that allowed Amditis to tag up and score from third after opening the eighth inning with a double.
Miami’s pitchers stranded 11 Wake Forest baserunners, including at least one in six consecutive innings from the second through the sixth. But a five-run bottom of the eighth allowed the Demon Deacons to avoid a sweep.
The Hurricanes will end the regular season this weekend, hosting Duke for a three-game series that begins Thursday at 7 p.m. Friday’s game is slated for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday’s regular season finale it set for 1 p.m.