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No. 3 Miami Baseball Tops No. 9 UNC 7-3, Wins Series

Richard Lewis/UM Athletics

Courtesy UM

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – No. 3 Miami continued its recent stretch of dominance over North Carolina Saturday night, as the hosts captured another pivotal ACC series with an 7-3 win at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

With the victory, Miami won the head-to-head series against the ninth-ranked Tar Heels for the third straight year and for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

The red-hot Hurricanes (22-4, 9-2 ACC), who won Friday night’s game in dominant fashion, received another strong performance on the mound Saturday to key their 17th win in the last 19 outings and their fourth straight series victory.

A night after senior Thomas Woodrey shined, sophomore Michael Mediavilla delivered one of his best performances as a starter.

Facing off against another one of the nation’s premier arms in Tar Heels righthander J.B. Bukauskas, Mediavilla (5-0) went a career-long 7.1 innings with five strikeouts and just one walk.

The southpaw rebounded from a disappointing start against Clemson by allowing just two runs.

“I found a groove early. I found some trouble in the second inning, but I was able to calm myself down and not let that affect me,” Mediavilla said. “I started attacking hitters, getting ahead early, and it worked out for me.”

Bukauskas (4-1) was sharp early, but would surrender a season-high six runs in just 5.0 innings and picked up his first loss of 2016 in the decision.

“I thought it was a good team effort,” head coach Jim Morris said. “We pitched very well, a lot of guys got hits against an outstanding prospect…North Carolina has a very good club. They’re very deep in their pitching staff.”

In the opposing dugout, Mediavilla set down a stretch of 12 in a row from the fourth through eighth innings.

“Whatever pitches we were calling were working,” Mediavilla said. “We were just trying to get ahead of hitters, basically. Once we got a comfortable lead, just get ahead of hitters and make sure we get them out of there as quick as we can.”

North Carolina (20-6, 6-5 ACC) opened the scoring in the second inning on a solo home run from slugger Tyler Ramirez and a sacrifice fly from Kyle Datres to go ahead 2-0.

But Miami would respond with five runs on four hits in the third to take its first lead of the night. A two-RBI single to center off Bukauskas from redshirt junior Christopher Barr tied the game 2-2.

With two outs, junior Johnny Ruiz continued the rally with a walk to load the bases. Senior Brandon Lopez delivered the go-ahead hit, a bases-clearing double to right-center to give the Hurricanes a 5-2 lead.

Three of Miami’s five two-out RBI came on the hit for Lopez, who finished the game 3-for-4.

“As a team we’ve been doing well with clutch hitting with two outs,” Lopez said. “I just wanted to get a good pitch early in the count - I knew [Bukauskas] was a fastball pitcher – and take it the other way.”

Ruiz came up with another clutch hit off Bukauskas in the fifth, a two-out RBI single to left to build the lead to 6-2.

That was more than enough for Mediavilla, who cruised after allowing the early two runs. From there, he retired 17 of the next 18 batters before a solo home run from Zack Gahagan with one out in the eighth. He exited to a standing ovation from the 3,441 in attendance.

Freshman Frankie Bartow recorded the final two outs of the inning, while junior closer Bryan Garcia pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Hurricanes will go for the sweep of the Tar Heels Sunday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. First pitch for the game, slated for broadcast on ESPN3, is set for 1 p.m.