Hurricanes Handle 13th-Ranked Heels in Series Finale

Hurricanes Handle 13th-Ranked Heels in Series Finale

by Josh White

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Hurricanes had to turn the page. Immediately.

After a heartbreaking walk-off loss during the resumption of Friday’s suspended contest, Miami regrouped.

With the series finale one hour later Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes came together to topple the 13th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, 4-3, at Boshamer Stadium.

“That’s a real character-builder,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “I challenged the team to see what they were made of. It’s tough to play an hour after that game with the way it ended on the road. We knew it was going to take a total team effort, especially on the pitching side. I’m proud of our guys for the way that they fought and stuck together.”

Despite being shorthanded on the mound, Miami’s pitching staff pieced together a gutsy performance to secure the Hurricanes’ first series victory at North Carolina since 2015.

After battling for 20 frames across the first two games, Miami (22-13, 10-8 ACC) used five bullpen arms to contain the potent Tar Heels (24-12, 9-7 ACC) in the finale.

Fourth-year right-hander Alejandro Torres, who was pitching for the third straight day, put on the finishing touches with a 1-2-3 ninth to lock down his second career save.

In the eighth, sophomore southpaw Rafe Schlesinger entered with the bases loaded and one out. Schlesinger induced a game-saving 4-6-3 double play, letting out a roar to ignite the visitors’ dugout.

Freshman lefty Chris Scinta tossed two scoreless innings, including a strikeout of the Heels’ walk-off hero Hunter Stokely in the seventh.

Junior Ben Chestnutt (3-0) picked up the win after yielding two tallies over 3 1/3 frames. The righty retired the first nine batters he faced in relief of Ronaldo Gallo, who opened the contest with two innings of one-run baseball.

“If we’re going to win, we’re going to need this pitching staff and we’re going to need every single arm,” Torres said. “That’s Miami baseball. We play with our heart on our sleeves because this means more than anything to us. To be able to pull out a series win on the road, it’s about time we get things rolling.”

The ACC’s top home run hitting team launched two crucial blasts in its eighth ranked victory.

Junior Zach Levenson’s solo shot in the fifth proved to be the difference, with freshman Lorenzo Carrier’s rocket in the third sparking the early attack.

After Carrier’s second homer of the series leveled the score at 1-1, junior Dominic Pitelli plated a pair with an opposite-field single.

“Zo has a lot of power,” DiMare said. “It was time to give him an opportunity. When he runs into balls, no park is holding him. He’s a threat to any pitcher when he comes up to the plate. He took advantage of a great opportunity and he’ll be in the lineup.”

Following the conclusion of their six-game road swing, the Hurricanes return home Tuesday. Miami hosts Bethune-Cookman at 6 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

“We just focused on the little things,” Pitelli said. “North Carolina is a heck of a team and this whole series could have gone either way, but we stayed together. We’re happy to head home with two huge wins.”

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