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Heyward Powers Miami Baseball to 17-6 Win

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy UM

ATLANTA – Entering the final at bat of a career night in front of his hometown crowd, junior Jacob Heyward received some advice while standing in the on-deck circle at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Not that he needed it.

“Get your pitch,” his grandfather Nesbitt Benjamin told him before he stepped in the batter’s box.

Heyward obliged, crushing the first pitch he saw from Georgia Tech lefthander Ben Parr over the fence in left for a late solo home run.

The eighth-inning, tape-measure blast capped a five-RBI game that helped propel Miami to a 17-6 win in front of 1,516 fans, many of whom were there to support the McDonough, Ga., native.

One of seven Hurricanes to record multiple hits, Heyward said he wasn’t focused on any friends or family in attendance during the game before the visit from his grandfather.

“I wasn’t thinking about all the people there supporting me, it was more we had to win the game,” he said. “I had a lot of good opportunities to get runners in, and I was just happy to get the job done for the team.”

Miami’s totals of 17 runs and 22 hits were both season highs.

In addition to Heyward (3-for-5, three runs), Randy Batista (4-for-6, three RBI), senior Brandon Lopez (2-for-5, two RBI) and redshirt junior Christopher Barr (3-for-5, two RBI) also had big nights at the plate for the Hurricanes, who won for the sixth time in their last seven games.

Miami (36-9, 16-6 ACC) plated five runs in the fourth and six more in the fifth, quickly shifting a two-run deficit into a 12-3 lead.

Though the Jackets (31-16, 11-12 ACC) tagged lefthander Danny Garcia for a season-high five runs, Miami secured its 10th series win of the year and fourth on the road largely thanks to the offensive explosion in the middle innings of the rubber game.

“It was a big series for us,” Heyward said. “We feel like we’ve set ourselves up in a good position, being a top-five team in the country, and we just wanted to keep the wins rolling.”

The Hurricanes sent 19 batters to the plate and recorded 10 hits over those two decisive innings, including a pair of two-RBI doubles by Heyward and RBI singles from four different players.

The Hurricanes opened the scoring in the first on an RBI single from Zack Collins, but found themselves trailing when the Jackets connected for three solo home runs over their next two trips to the plate.

Facing a 3-1 deficit, Miami loaded the bases against Georgia Tech righthander Jake Lee (3-1) in the fourth on a double from Johnny Ruiz, a hit-by-pitch from Willie Abreu and a bunt single from Batista.

Heyward then tied the game with a lined double over the head of Georgia Tech leftfielder Matt Gonzalez, and freshman Romy Gonzalez put Miami ahead with a two-RBI single to center.

Barr capped the inning’s scoring with an RBI groundout to push Miami’s lead to 6-3.

After a 1-2-3 inning from Garcia in the home half of the fourth, Miami blew the game open with six runs in the fifth.

Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Batista, who connected on an opposite-field single to left for the first run of the inning. Heyward then snuck his second double of the night inside the rightfield line for two more runs, while back-to-back RBI singles from Carl Chester and Barr made it 11-3.

An RBI groundout from Lopez marked the sixth and final run of the inning for Miami.

Garcia (8-3) scattered six hits and five earned runs over five innings. He struck out three batters and walked one before being relieved in the sixth with Miami leading 12-5.

Miami’s bullpen pitched the final four innings, surrendering just two hits and one run from the sixth inning on. Freshman Andrew Cabezas pitched the sixth, freshman Frankie Bartow pitched the seventh and eighth, while junior Bryan Garcia needed just nine pitches to get through a scoreless ninth.

The Hurricanes open a five-game homestand Tuesday night against Bethune-Cookman at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. First pitch for the game, slated for broadcast on ESPN3, is set for 7 p.m.