Fourth-Seeded Miami Knocks off Top-Seeded Wake Forest, Advances to Title Game

Fourth-Seeded Miami Knocks off Top-Seeded Wake Forest, Advances to Title Game

by Josh White

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

The Miami Hurricanes did just that Saturday afternoon.

With highlight reel defensive plays, timely hitting and a big-time pitching performance, the fourth-seeded Hurricanes handled the top-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 7-2, to advance to the ACC Baseball Championship Game Sunday.

“I thought we played maybe our best game of the year,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Obviously, playing the No. 1 team in the country you’ve got to be at your best…Proud of our guys, but the job’s not done. Obviously, tomorrow is the big one. It’s been awhile since we’ve been in this position, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Junior third baseman Yohandy Morales led the charge with his sixth career multi-homer performance, guiding the Hurricanes (40-18) to their first ACC Baseball Championship Game appearance since 2012.

Morales mashed a solo shot in the sixth inning and legged-out an inside-the-park home run in the ninth as part of a three-hit, four-RBI game.

The Hurricanes’ first inside-the-parker in 18 years marked Morales’ 45th career round-tripper, tying him with Ryan Braun for fifth all-time in program history.

“It’s special to me, my family and my teammates. They’re all really proud of me,” the Miami native said. “I’m just trying to win games with my brothers.”

While Morales stole the headlines, DiMare named junior Alejandro Rosario the game’s MVP.

The right-hander (4-6) earned the win in relief, holding the Demon Deacons (47-10) to one unearned run across 4 2/3 innings.

“He’s so talented,” DiMare said. “Nobody has more confidence in him than me. And when it clicks, look out. He gave us a good bridge to get deep into the game.”

With Morales shining at the plate and Rosario in control on the bump, the Hurricanes flashed some leather in the field.

In the fifth, junior center fielder Jacoby Long ran a country mile to rob a potential game-tying homer.

Long’s leaping play over the wall ignited the Miami dugout.

The next batter, Morales left the yard.

“It gave us momentum,” Morales said of Long’s catch. “If he didn’t catch that, it would’ve been a completely different ballgame. It was an unreal catch by him.”

Morales joined the dazzling defensive display in the seventh, teaming up with shortstop Dominic Pitelli and first baseman CJ Kayfus for an unconventional 6-5-3 double play.

In the ninth, Morales made another web gem down before right fielder Zach Levenson sprawled out for a diving snag to seal the deal.

With the victory, the Hurricanes will look to win their first ACC title since 2008. Miami meets three-seeded Clemson at 12 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s special being able to play in the ACC Championship Game,” Morales said. “We’re ready to compete and win a championship.”

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