CORAL GABLES, Fla. – No. 4 Miami finished off its seventh sweep of the season Sunday afternoon, earning an 8-4 win over Pittsburgh in the series finale at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
The Hurricanes (40-9, 19-9 ACC), who clinched their third straight ACC Coastal Division title earlier in the day by virtue of a Virginia loss, improved to 15-0 all-time against the Panthers with the win.
Miami is now assured of a top-two seed at the 2016 ACC Baseball Championship, which begins in Durham, N.C., on May 24.
“It’s always great to come out on top of your division,” sophomore Carl Chester said. “We knew it ahead of time, so we were just going in like any other game, trying to clinch.”
An effective outing from lefthander Danny Garcia and six runs scored over the middle innings propelled the hosts to their sixth straight win in front of 3,169.
“It’s an honor to be the Coastal Division champion again - which is nice to be able to say that, for three years in a row,” head coach Jim Morris said. “It’s a credit to our players, our team overall as a group, coaches and staff, everybody working hard to win what is a very, very tough division.”
Garcia (9-3) scattered six hits and three runs in a 91-pitch outing. He walked four batters and struck out four before departing after five innings.
The Panthers (25-23, 10-16 ACC) took leads of 2-0 and 3-2, but could not hold off Miami in the middle innings.
Trailing by one, the Hurricanes chased starter Aaron Sandefur in the fifth after plating a pair of runs on RBI singles from Barr and Brandon Lopez to take their first lead of the afternoon. The hosts pushed their advantage to 6-3 on a botched double play that scored two runs with Pitt reliever Josh Mitchell on the mound.
“We feel like we’re a veteran team this year, with a lot of returning players,” first baseman Christopher Barr said. “Even if we’re down however many runs, if there is still some time left in the game, and we haven’t made all of our outs, we feel like we can come back and win.”
Sandefur (3-5) was charged with six runs on four hits in 4.1 innings. He walked four and hit one batter.
Miami’s bullpen was effective yet again Sunday. Though the Panthers scored a run in the sixth to cut Miami’s lead to 6-4, redshirt freshman Devin Meyer, senior Thomas Woodrey and freshman Frankie Bartow combined for four hitless innings to end the game.
The Hurricanes padded their lead to four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Singles from Edgar Michelangeli and Chester put runners on the corners, and an errant throw from Pitt catcher Manny Pazos in an effort to catch Chester stealing landed in centerfield to plate Michelangeli.
A sacrifice fly from Barr, who tied a career high with three RBI, represented the final run of the day for Miami.
Chester recorded the first three-steal game of his career, and tied a career high with three hits.
Woodrey pitched the seventh and eighth, while Bartow pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and needed just 10 pitches to get through the Panthers order.
“This is just one small, little goal right now,” Barr said about the division title. “It’s not our main goal. Our main goal is to win it all in Omaha.”
Miami wraps up its home schedule Tuesday with its final midweek matchup of the year against Florida Gulf Coast University. The Hurricanes end their regular season in Tallahassee, Fla., with a series against rival Florida State from May 19-21.
First pitch for Tuesday’s matchup with the Eagles, slated for broadcast on ESPN3 and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 7 p.m.