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Five Blasts Rocket Canes Past Clemson

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Alex Toral led a five-homer barrage as Miami’s bats pummeled Clemson on the opening night of this weekend’s three-game series.

The veteran first baseman hit two gargantuan homers to lead a season-high five-homer effort by the Hurricanes, as they beat the Tigers, 9-3, before a sold-out crowd of 651 fans inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

“It’s supposed to be normal,” Toral said. “With this lineup, that’s supposed to be normal and something that we’re supposed to go out and repeat day after day. Hopefully, we can continue to do this.”

The Hurricanes scored a season-high 12 runs against an ACC opponent and posted their first five-homer game since belting six against Central Michigan in the 2019 Starkville Regional on June 2.

“It’s the second half of the season and the bats are finally showing up for us,” Toral said. “I think it’s something we can build off. Hitting is contagious. As long as we start the game off pretty good and we keep it going, I think we compete with any arms in the country and this lineup can be dangerous.”

Miami (19-11, 11-10 ACC) broke thru against Clemson starter Mack Anglin with a three-run bottom of the third. The rally was capped by an RBI double from Adrian Del Castillo that drove in his 24th run of the season.

But Clemson (15-15, 9-10 ACC) responded with a run in the top of the fourth, as Adam Hackenberg legged out a leadoff double to right and scored on a two-out infield single from Sam Hall that cut Miami’s lead to two, 3-1.

Toral got the run back for Miami when he destroyed a 1-1 pitch from Anglin for a leadoff homer in the bottom of the fourth. The solo shot went an estimated 432 feet, hitting the Ponce Garage beyond the right field fence.

The Canes added on in the fourth, as Dominic Pitelli smoked an RBI double to right that drove in Raymond Gil and Yohandy Morales’s sacrifice fly to center pushed home Pitelli to make it 6-1.

Toral sparked a three-homer inning in the fifth against reliever Evan Estridge, crushing a ball 437 feet that landed on the roof of the Ponce Garage.

“I know I got all of it,” Toral said. “I was going into that at-bat sitting changeup because the scouting report says he’s a changeup guy. He had thrown a bunch to the guys before me and that’s what I was looking for. He left it up and as soon as I made contact, I actually stayed watching this one because I knew I got it pretty good.”

As a man who has spent more than two decades with the program, DiMare has seen a lot of impressive feats at Mark Light Field. But Toral’s mammoth homer was one of the most incredible indivudal moments Miami’s head coach has witnessed.

“I have only seen it a couple times, only once in a live game,” DiMare said. “Last time it was done was a guy at Bethune Cookman hit one up there against us in a regional, and I think we did it one time in practice but that’s it. It’s the only times I’ve seen it so it’s been a long time. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it bounce. Obviously it went up there and I couldn’t tell it was up there but then I saw it bounce and I was like, ‘oh my goodness I haven’t seen that in a long time.’ He really crushed it. Today was that day where the wind was blowing out so if you’ve got a hold of one, they’re going to go pretty good.”

Two batters later, Pitelli hit a solo homer and Gabe Rivera followed with a bomb to left that landed on the Cobb Stadium soccer field in left. The back-to-back blasts gave Miami a 9-1 lead after five innings.

“When you’re going good and you make contact like that on a mistake pitch, it’s a good thing for me,” Toral said. “And then hitting is contagious so the guys behind me see that and in that inning we took off with a few more home runs.”

Clemson scored a pair of runs in the seventh off Miami starter Alejandro Rosario, but the true freshman earned his fourth win of the year after finishing with a career-high nine strikeouts while allowing three runs (two earned) over six-plus innings pitched.

“That was one of our more complete games all the way around, starting on the mound,” DiMare said. “Alejandro really set the tone. I thought he threw one of his better games. Liked seeing that movement, it looked like he had good movement on the ball from where I was standing. His off-speed pitches were much better, both the change and slider were very effective. I thought he was good in all areas there.”

Gil mashed a two-out, three-run shot in the eighth that gave Miami a nine-run lead and set a new season-high for home runs in a game. The Canes previously hit four homers at NC State on March 7.

“Our offense really exploded there with the long ball and the extra-base hits,” DiMare said. “Loved the way we swung the bat today and just hopefully we can build off it.”

Miami and Clemson return to action Saturday evening in a game scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch.