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Miami Drops Series Opener at NC State

by David Villavicencio

RALEIGH, N.C. – In a game that featured two offenses going back-and-forth early, the Miami Hurricanes could not answer NC State’s 10-run barrage over three innings on Friday afternoon.

The No. 6 Canes (3-4, 1-3 ACC) fell short in their series opener against the Wolfpack, 11-5, inside Doak Field at Dail Park. Miami head coach Gino DiMare did not see enough from his team in any aspect of the game on Friday against the Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3 ACC).

“Baseball is a crazy game that can mess with your mind and right now it’s messing with all our minds,” DiMare said. “We’re going to have to figure out a way to fight through this, to not feel sorry for ourselves, to make sure we figure out a way to get back on track. We know we have the capability of doing it. We’ve just got to make sure we get it done and so it’s just one of those things where we’ve got to mentally stay tough and not bury ourselves.”

Miami was riding momentum heading into the bottom of the fourth, as Jordan Lala’s three-run opposite-field homer had just evened the score at 5. But the Wolfpack responded with its second consecutive four-run inning to take the lead for good.

Nine-hole hitter Jose Torres led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer off Miami reliever Jake Garland. Tyler McDonough continued his hot hitting with a double and came around to score on a hit through the right side by catcher Luca Tresh. The Wolfpack added two more runs in the inning, as Devonta Brown hit a two-run homer to right that gave NC State a four-run advantage.

“We’ve got to shut teams down when we score runs,” DiMare said. “We can’t let them come back. We score three and they score four, we score one and they score and this has been happening too much. That’s probably the one thing that sticks out but if you just look at everything. We’re not playing very good. We’re not playing good defense, our better players obviously are not playing well, but it’s everybody really. It’s a crazy thing where it’s a combination of a lot of things not working. It’s a complete mess up. We’re just not pitching well, we’re not playing good defense and not hitting. We’re better than this but right now it’s the way we’re playing and we’ve got to figure it out.”

NC State added to its lead in the fifth when Torres hit an RBI double to left that pushed home Vojtech Mensik. Two batters later, McDonough drove in his second run of the game with an RBI groundout to second. Right-handed pitcher Alex McFarlane replaced Garland on the mound with two outs in the fifth and stranded runners at the corners, but the Wolfpack took a six-run lead into the final four innings.

The Canes put runners at the corners with one out against NC State reliever Reid Johnston in the top of the seventh, but the right-hander got Adrian Del Castillo to pop out and struck out pinch hitter Adam Frank to end the threat and the Canes had just two baserunners reach over the final two innings on Friday.

“It’s an offense that if you look at it, it’s the same guys from 2019 when we were one of the better offenses in the country with Jordan, Vilar, Del Castillo, Toral and Gil, I mean that’s that was the lineup two years ago, and it was a very good offensive lineup,” DiMare said. “I can’t quite put one thing on it to figure out what exactly it is. I just like to think that once we do get it going, we can take off and not look back, but it’s a struggle right now, there’s no doubt.”

While NC State’s offense got rolling in the middle innings, it was the Hurricanes that had success at the start. Miami scored in the top of the first for the fifth consecutive game, as Lala opened the game reaching first on a hit by pitch. A passed ball and wild pitch helped Lala advance to third, putting him in position to score on a sacrifice fly to center by Canes’ cleanup hitter Adrian Del Castillo.

“It’s a total team effort on poorly played baseball,” DiMare said. “There’s no doubt it’s demoralizing when you score runs, and then you let the team score right back. That’s got to be a mental letdown for the team. For whatever reason, we seem to score our runs early, and then the offense seems to just shut it down and I can’t figure that out. That’s been the norm for us in these games, we score early and then we don’t score much in the second half of the game.”

NC State tied the game at one after a pair of defensive miscues by the Canes opened the door for the Wolfpack in the bottom of the first. McDonough reached on three-base error by Lala in left and Del Castillo couldn’t handle strike 3 to cleanup hitter Jonny Butler, allowing McDonough to score with two outs in the frame.

The Canes responded with a run in the second, as Alex Toral led off the inning with a walk and Chad Born followed with a single up the middle that was his first hit as a Cane. Toral scored from third on a one-out groundout by Tony Jenkins that put Miami back on top, 2-1.

The Wolfpack offense broke out in the bottom of the third, as McDonough and Tresh opened the inning with back-to-back homers of Miami starter Daniel Federman. NC State added another run with a sacrifice fly to left by J.T. Jarrett and closed out the four-run inning with Terrell Tatum scoring on a passed ball to make it 5-2.

The Hurricanes put together a two-out rally in the top of the fourth to bring the game to its third tie score of the day. Christian Del Castillo and Tony Jenkins walked to flip the lineup over and Lala hit a three-run homer to left field that made it 5-5, but the Canes had just one hit the rest of the game.

Miami and NC State are back in action Saturday afternoon for Game 2 of this weekend’s three-game set. True freshman Alejandro Rosario will toe the rubber for the Hurricanes opposite NC State right-hander Sam Highfill. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.