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Miami 8, No.24 Virginia 1: SWEEP!

The Hurricanes completed a dominant weekend over UVA.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Miami vs UC Santa Barbara Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes swept the Virginia Cavaliers with a 8-1 win on Sunday. The Hurricanes are now 12-11 (6-3 ACC) on the season, and are above .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. Additionally, Miami is tied for first in the ACC Coastal division with the Duke Blue Devils.

The Hurricanes got another great start from Andrew Cabezas. Miami’s decision to put Cabezas in the starting rotation was met with a lot of skepticism, but it has really paid off for Miami. He’s 2-0 in his two starts and he’s looked unhittable doing so.

Miami jumped on the Cavaliers early today. In the bottom of the first two singles from Hunter Tackett and Michael Burns gave Miami runners on the corners for the hot-handed hitter Isaac Quinones. Quinones got behind in the count, but with two strikes and two outs in the inning he launched a double to the wall in left field that scored both the runners and gave Miami a 2-0 lead heading to the second inning. Michael Amditis, previously Miami’s everyday catcher, is back soon, but the ‘Canes can’t take Isaac Quinones out of the lineup. Quinones is Miami’s best player right now, both hitting and fielding wise (he has a perfect fielding percentage), and Jim Morris would be crazy to remove him from the lineup. Amditis could slot in as a solid designated hitter, because he was very good at the plate before his injury, but there will be a problem when Danny Reyes returns to the lineup. It’ll be a challenging problem for Jim Morris to solve, but Quinones has to be a member of the starting nine every day for the time being.

The second inning went just as well as the first for the Hurricanes. Willy Escala led off the inning by reaching on a hit-by-pitch, and he was pushed to second on a sac-bunt from Ray Gil. Freddy Zamora accidentally hit the ball on a check swing during his at-bat, but it got past UVA pitcher Bobby Nicholson, who started after Evan Sperling was scratched for unknown reasons. After allowing two men to reach base, Nicholson was pulled after just 1.1 innings of work, and Blake Rohm was put in to try and stop the Hurricanes. However, Rohm would struggle nearly as much as Nicholson, he walked Dylan Cloonan to load the bases, and in the ensuing at-bat he hit Hunter Tackett to push the lead to 3-0 Miami. As a result Rohm would be replaced by Mack Meyer. Meyer would get Michael Burns to pop out, but Isaac Quinones sent a dart up the middle in his next at-bat. Quinones’ hit was fielded, but the throw from short pulled Virginia first baseman Nate Eikhoff off the bag, and as a result everyone was safe and Miami’s lead was 4-0. Unfortunately Michael Perez flew-out to end the inning, but Miami had given Andrew Cabezas a four run lead that he wouldn’t relinquish.

Virginia would get one back in the top of the fourth. The Cavaliers would get their first two men on in the inning after a single and a hit-by-pitch. Willy Escala fielded a grounder in the next at-bat for what could have been a double play, but a slightly inaccurate throw from him to Freddy Zamora meant that Nate Eikhoff would be safe at first base. Giving UVA runners on the corners. In the next at-bat Alex Tappen would hit a deep fly ball that would allow the runner to tag from third, making the score 4-1 in favor of Miami as the game went to the bottom of the fourth.

After the action in the first four innings of the game things settled down at The Light. Miami squandered a few chances, but Andrew Cabezas didn’t allow Virginia to get much of anything going, and in the end the junior gave Miami six innings of one run baseball. Jeremy Cook was brought in to relieve Cabezas, and after working a mostly harmless seventh, he gave UVA their biggest chance to get in the game in the eighth.

In the top of the eighth Cook let two runners reach base with only one out, and with the game still within reach for UVA at 4-1, Jim Morris decided to replace Cook and let Cooper Hammond work the Hurricanes out of the jam. Hammond came into the game and immediately got a big strikeout to get two outs in the inning, and he would follow that by forcing a groundout that would end the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth the Hurricanes looked to add some insurance, and they did just that. Isaac Quinones started off the inning with a single, and that brought Romy Gonzalez to the plate. Gonzalez belted a ball to left field that the outfielder lost in the sun, as a result the ball dropped and what should have been a fly out turned into an RBI triple for Gonzalez. Willy Escala then continued the rally with a walk, and Ray Gil would drive both of them in with a deep RBI double that bounced off the wall. Freddy Zamora would then drive a ball to center field, and the Virginia center fielder dropped it to let Zamora reach and Gil score. After that two quick outs ended the inning, but Miami held an 8-1 lead heading to the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth Cooper Hammond retired the Cavaliers quickly and completed the sweep. This was a huge weekend, Miami recovered after collapsing in the mid-week game, and because of their strong start in the ACC they find themselves tied for first in the division. The Hurricanes will play an exhibition game against the Miami Marlins Tuesday, before a game on the road with FGCU on Wednesday. Then next weekend the Hurricanes take a road trip to Atlanta, Georgia to face a struggling Georgia Tech team. With another week like this one, or maybe one that’s even better, the Hurricanes will have completely turned the season around, and could quite possibly even find themselves ranked, but that’s easier said than done.

Game Stats

Winning Pitcher: Andrew Cabezas (2-2, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K)

Losing Pitcher: Bobby Nicholson (1-1, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K)

Save: None

Box Score:

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Date & Time: Wednesday, March 28, 6:30 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Daniel Federman (1-1, 1.95 ERA)

FGCU Starter: Bryan Wilcox (2-1, 8.53 ERA)

Television: None

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM