DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – Things went according to form for top-seeded Miami on Wednesday afternoon.
The Hurricanes used a strong joint effort from three pitchers to blank ninth-seeded Georgia Tech, 4-0, as the first day of ACC Baseball Championship pool play continued at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Starting pitcher Jesse Lepore and relievers Frankie Bartow and Bryan Garcia combined on a five-hitter while handing the nationally 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets their first shutout loss since an 8-0 decision at North Carolina on March 25.
Round-robin Pool A action continues for both teams on Thursday with Miami (44-10) meeting fifth-seeded NC State (34-19) in the 7 p.m. contest.
The nationally third-ranked Hurricanes did the bulk of their offensive damage in the first inning, capitalizing on three walks by Tech starter Jake Lee (3-3) for a quick 3-0 lead. Brandon Lopez and Willie Abreu delivered RBI singles, and Randy Batista brought home Miami’s third run with an RBI groundout to first base.
Reliever Ben Parr righted the Yellow Jackets’ pitching ship following the rocky start, retiring 13 consecutive batters during one stretch.
But the damage done in the opening frame proved to be enough for the Hurricanes, and All-ACC catcher Zack Collins provided a bit of insurance in the bottom of the eighth with his 12th home run of the season – a solo shot that pushed the lead to the final 4-0 margin.
The opposite-field homer was the 38th of Collins' remarkable Miami career, moving him into a three-way tie with fellow catchers Charles Johnson (1990-92) and Yasmani Grandal (2008-10) for 10th in Miami history.
Lepore (9-0) worked six full innings, allowing three hits and striking out three batters while walking two. He left the game in the top of the seventh inning due to muscle spasms in his shoulder as a result of fatigue, not believed to be serious. Despite his relatively early departure, Lepore pitched at least six innings for the seventh time in 12 starts this season.
Bartow worked two hitless innings in relief for Miami before giving way to Garcia in the top of the ninth. Garcia – who ranks third on the ACC’s all-time career saves list – gave up back-to-back singles to Tristin English and Trevor Craport, and his two-out walk to Keenan Innis loaded the bases. But Garcia struck out pinch hitter Arden Pabst to end the threat and the game.