ATLANTA – Junior Willie Abreu hit two home runs, sophomore Michael Mediavilla delivered another strong start, and No. 4 Miami evened its series against host Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon with a 12-2 victory.
Abreu connected on a towering solo shot in the third and added a two-run home run in the seventh for his second multi-homer effort of the season. Juniors Johnny Ruiz and Randy Batista also homered for the Hurricanes, who won for the fifth time in their past six games.
Mediavilla, who allowed eight hits but just two runs, picked up his team-leading ninth win of the season to set up a rubber match Monday night at 7 p.m.
The lefthander walked one and struck out five, and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout of Jackets slugger Kel Johnson on his 100th and final pitch.
He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced, helping avenge a disappointing 12-1 loss Saturday night.
“They’re a great team from top to bottom, but yesterday left a bitter taste in my mouth,” Mediavilla said. “I take pride in this team. We all do. We kind of got embarrassed, and that can’t happen.”
Freshman Frankie Bartow pitched a scoreless eighth while junior Ryan Guerra closed it out in the ninth in front of 1,519 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Miami wasted little time in opening the scoring, as a two-RBI single from senior Brandon Lopez put the Hurricanes on top in the first inning.
Yellow Jackets righthander Cole Pitts allowed a leadoff single to Carl Chester and back-to-back walks to Christopher Barr and Zack Collins to load the bases for Lopez, who extended his hitting streak to eight straight games with a hit up the middle.
After the Jackets (31-15, 11-11 ACC) halved the deficit on a solo home run by Matt Gonzalez, the Hurricanes chased Pitts (3-3) with a five-run third inning to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
The visitors connected for four straight hits to open the frame. Barr singled, Collins doubled, and Lopez boosted Miami’s lead with his second two-RBI single of the day to make it 4-1.
Lopez, who tied a career high with four RBI, reached base for the 28th straight game.
Four pitches later, Ruiz cracked the second home run of his career to right-center to chase Pitts (3-3) and push the lead to 6-1.
Miami (35-9, 15-6 ACC) would not be deterred by the early pitching change, however, as Abreu connected on a solo home run to right off reliever Zac Ryan to cap the inning’s scoring.
Abreu’s homer marked the second time this year Miami has homered twice in the same inning, and his four hits (4-for-5) tied a career high.
“We’re able to stay within ourselves and do what we have to do,” Abreu said. “We have trust in ourselves and our coaching that we’re able to come out victorious. It was great to be able to go about it the way we did. “
Mediavilla (9-1) skirted damage for much of the afternoon, including in the fourth inning when the Jackets loaded the bases on a single, walk and fielder’s choice. Facing Gonzalez, who homered in his first at bat of the afternoon, Mediavilla induced a grounder to third to maintain his team’s 7-2 lead.
“I took it upon myself that if they give me a lead, to make sure my team stays on top, make sure we keep fighting and make sure we keep the momentum going,” Mediavilla said.
Mediavilla was helped by some terrific defensive play from Miami.
Abreu robbed a home run in the bottom of the first inning, junior Jacob Heyward made a running catch before slamming into the wall in the third to prevent extra bases, while a nifty backhand play from Ruiz in the sixth ended a 1-2-3 inning for the laidback lefty.
“We came back and did what we had to do. Our team has that fire. It’s very cool to watch…I’m very proud of everyone,” Abreu said.
The Hurricanes return to Russ Chandler Stadium Monday for the rubber match of the weekend series. First pitch for the contest, slated for broadcast on ESPNU, is set for 7 p.m.