Canes Rally Late to Take Series from GT

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes needed a win on Sunday and the hometown team made sure it earned one, taking the series from Georgia Tech in comeback fashion.

The Canes (29-16, 17-15 ACC) battled back from a 4-0 deficit to score five runs late in the game to beat the Yellow Jackets, 5-4, before a sold-out crowd of 604 fans inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

“Without a doubt, our biggest win of the year,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “It’s a much needed one and it seems like it’s been a little while since we’ve played a game like this, which is crazy to say. This is the kind of baseball I love being a part of and coaching and players I know they love being a part of. It was just so much energy. It’s the loudest by far and away we heard our crowd, which was great. We know it’s limited, but the fans were awesome.”

Facing a three-run deficit in the seventh, Miami loaded the bases on three walks by reliever Zach Maxwell. Tony Jenkins, who had three hits and three RBI on Saturday, delivered a two-run double that brought the Canes within a run. Adrian Del Castillo followed with a bases-loaded two-run single that put Miami ahead, 5-4.

“The guys had a lot of energy,” Jenkins said. “We knew what we had to do today, especially after Friday night. We bounced back Saturday and we bounced back today so I feel like it was just all a mindset for us. We knew what we had to get done. We went down a little bit early but at the end of the day, we continued to fight and we got the dub.”

For Jenkins, the two-run double capped a six-hit, five-RBI series against the Yellow Jackets, while Del Castillo finished with four RBIs on the weekend.

“The two biggest hits of the game were Tony’s to bring it within one and then, of course, Del’s that won the game,” DiMare said. “Clutch hits in big situations there. I’m really, again, happy Tony had a great weekend. His job obviously as the leadoff guy is to get on base, but when he comes up in a situation like that for any leadoff hitter, with guys in scoring position, you need to be RBI guy, which means you need to now be more aggressive and you need to really look to be for a pitch that you can drive, and he got a pitch I’m sure it was probably middle away and he drove it to right field. And Del has been an RBI machine for us for three years now so I was feeling very confident with him up at the plate in that situation and he came through.”

Miami closer Carson Palmquist took the mound in the eighth and struck out three batters over two scoreless innings to secure his 12th save of the year and wrap up the series for the Hurricanes.

“It’s just a huge momentum booster and exactly what we need going into Louisville weekend and the ACC tournament,” Palmquist said. “This season’s been in a tough stretch these past couple weeks and this is just going to turn us in the right direction and hopefully we get something going and make a run at it.”

The Yellow Jackets got on the scoreboard in the top of the second when John Anderson’s sacrifice fly to center drove home Justyn-Henry Mulloy.

Miami starter Jake Garland stymied the Jackets for two more innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Georgia Tech’s Tres Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and Kevin Parada followed with a solo shot that gave GT a four-run lead.

“I thought he threw great and maybe the biggest thing was the second inning with first and third and nobody out,” DiMare said of Garland. “In the past, we give up a lot of runs and he just minimized it. He gave up one run, gave up the one run that was at third base. Got a sac fly with one out, and that was it. That’s all they got out of that, and that ended up being the difference. We won by one run. He minimized that in what was a big, big, big inning for us. Great job by Jake.”

The Canes finally got something going in the sixth against GT starter Marquis Grissom Jr. Anthony Vilar walked and Adrian Del Castillo followed with a base hit and advanced to second on the throw trying to nab Vilar going first to third.

Tech head coach Danny Hall called for lefty Sam Crawford out of the bullpen and the reliever limited the Canes to just one run on an RBI groundout by Christian Del Castillo that made it 4-1.

After Andrew Walters threw 1.2 scoreless innings, Miami’s Spencer Bodanza put up a zero in the top of the seventh to keep the Hurricanes within striking distance and set the table for the four-run rally in the bottom of the inning. The lefty earned the win for his efforts in helping Miami earn its 10th comeback victory of the season.

“Just a big, big win, in terms of the meaning of the game, where we’re at in the ACC where we’re at with all kinds of factors out there, and to be down, which we haven’t been great at,” DiMare said. “We were down, but it wasn’t one of those where we were down 7,8,9 runs like we’ve been in some of these losses. You could just feel that we’ve still got a chance.”

Miami will host FAU Tuesday in the Hurricanes’ final home game of the 2021 season. First pitch between the Canes and Owls is scheduled for 6 p.m.