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Canes Drop Home Opener to Hokies

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Friday night at The Light was back, but the Hurricanes could not muster enough Mark Light Magic in their home opener against Virginia Tech.

No. 3 Miami (2-2) dropped the first game at Alex Rodriguez Park since March 8, 2020, falling to Virginia Tech, 5-3 before a sold-out crowd of 623 socially distant fans inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The loss was Miami’s first in its home ballpark since falling in the series finale against Florida on Feb. 23, 2020.

“There’s no panic or anything,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “We know this is going to be a battle of a schedule, a battle of a season. The ACC is very, very competitive this year. I told them it’s probably the toughest, most competitive I’ve ever seen the ACC. Everybody can play in our conference, anybody can beat you anytime. You’ve you just got to be ready to go and I think we were.

“There was no lag from the weekend or anything. We talked about that all week long,” DiMare added. “I just think you got to give credit where credit is due. Their lefties did a good job against us, and kind of just tell us where we couldn’t be consistent with our at-bats, and we’re gonna have to do a better job because they got more lefties. They’re starting to lefty tomorrow. We’re going to have to do a better job with those guys and turn the page and be ready to play tomorrow.”

Miami’s offense got right to work against Virginia Tech starter Peyton Alford, making the left-hander pay for a hit-by-pitch and walk to open the game. Yohandy Morales ripped an RBI single to center with runners at the corners, pushing home Jordan Lala. Adrian del Castillo followed with a base hit to left-center, driving in Anthony Vilar to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 advantage.

The Hokies (4-0) answered in the top of the second against Miami starter Daniel Federman, as Jonah Seagears singled home Kevin Madden to cut the Canes’ lead in half. Two batters later, Virginia Tech took a 3-2 lead on a two-run homer by catcher Cade Hunter.

“We scored a couple runs in the first, looked good and then we let them put a three spot up. That can’t happen,” DiMare said. “Just one of those things where we just could not get anything going, couldn’t get base runners going. Tough, tough game, got to turn the page and be ready to go tomorrow.”

Virginia Tech added two more runs in the third when designated hitter TJ Rumfield hit a two-run homer to center that made it 5-2.

“We’ve got to give those guys credit but a couple of balls were up in the zone and they were able to hit the ball out of the ballpark and that kind of was the difference there,” DiMare said. “I just thought his ball was a little bit more up than what I had seen before. Other than those two innings, he did throw good. Unfortunately, those two innings they got five runs that they scored.”

Federman and reliever Jake Garland combined to hold Virginia Tech scoreless over the final six innings, but Miami’s bats could not get going against a trio of Virginia Tech lefties.

“We couldn’t get anything going,” DiMares said. “They threw a lot of lefties at us, which we’ve got lefties in our lineup but we’ve had lefties in our lineup for the last three years. We’ve got to be able to hit lefties.”

The Hurricanes loaded the bases with no outs in the third and their two biggest hitters due up. But Del Castillo struck out and Alex Toral drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, getting just one run in the inning.

Toral’s sacrifice fly wrapped up the scoring for both sides, as lefty Matthew Siverling followed Alford on the mound and tossed four scoreless innings while striking out six batters to earn his first win of the year. Left-hander Shane Connolly blanked the Canes over the final two innings to pick up his second save of the year.

Miami and Virginia Tech return to action Saturday night in Game 2 of the three-game ACC series. The Hurricanes will send freshman right-hander Alejandro Rosario to the mound opposite Hokies’ left-hander Chris Gerard. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.