Perez Powers No. 11 Miami to Walk-Off Win over No. 16 Duke
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — It was late.
Carlos Perez needed a shower.
The Miami catcher got one courtesy of his celebratory teammates following his walk-off two-run homer that lifted the 11th-ranked Hurricanes over the Duke Blue Devils, 10-8, in 11 innings Friday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
“The team never gave up,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Duke’s playing very well right now. Their baseball team is ssinging the bat pretty hot and their pitching is very good. Our guys stayed with it and never gave up. We found a way to get it done. I’m just happy and proud of our guys.”
Perez punctuated the Hurricanes’ improbable rally, as Miami (36-18, 17-12) mounted seven unanswered runs against Duke (35-18, 17-11 ACC) across the final four frames.
At each turn of his jog around the bases, there was pure jubilation.
As Perez watched his game-winning blast sail over the right-field fence, he couldn’t contain his excitement.
With his teammates pouring out of the dugout, the junior jumped for joy and let out a roar in jubilation.
After collecting himself momentarily, Perez blew a kiss to his loved ones down the left-field line when he rounded second,
Once he reached third base, the Miami native raised his arms toward the sky.
It was more than enough of a signal for his teammates eagerly waiting at home.
Perez chucked his helmet aside and jumped up and down into the sweetest shower of his life.
“It felt amazing,” Perez said. “We stuck with it and stayed positive. Our guys in the dugout and the nine guys on the field, lineup, everybody, just never gave up and we came through big.”
The Hurricane hero’s magical moment seemed like something out of a Hollywood script.
With Miami trailing the Blue Devils by five in the eighth, the Cardiac Canes began to chip away.
Perez, sophomore left fielder Renzo Gonzalez and junior first baseman CJ Kayfus each plated a run in the eighth off of the dominant Duke pitching staff, which entered the series fourth nationally with a 3.80 ERA.
But Miami’s magic was far from over.
Despite being down to their final out, the Hurricanes believed.
Gonzalez dropped a game-tying two-run single into right-center field sending Mark Light Field into a frenzy.
“I wanted to get a pitch where I could just drive to the outfield and get that run in and pass it to the next guy,” Gonzalez said.”I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy. We believe in every single guy in the lineup and we came through.”
Miami closer Andrew Walters (4-0) shut down the Blue Devils in the 10th and 11th, setting the stage for Perez.
Following their fourth walk-off win of the year, the Hurricanes will wrap up their regular season slate Saturday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
To keep up with the University of Miami baseball team on social media, follow @CanesBaseball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.