A five run eighth inning pushed the Miami Hurricanes past the Virginia Cavaliers in Miami’s first game of the ACC Tournament. The win was Coach Gino DiMare’s first career postseason victory and the Hurricanes 39th win of the season. For Virginia, they find themselves knocked out of the conference tournament hoping to somehow make it into the NCAA Tournament on Monday. The Hurricanes now take on North Carolina Friday, with the winner of that game moving into the semifinal round to play Boston College.
The Hurricanes got on the board quick, with a two run home run from Adrian Del Castillo in the top of the first. However, the Cavaliers responded quickly, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first off of an RBI single and RBI double from Nic Kent and Jack Weiller respectively.
After that, Brian Van Belle and Virginia starter Noah Murdock settled in, with neither allowing another run until the top of the fifth. The Hurricanes started the inning with two singles from Jordan Lala and Anthony Vilar that put runners on the corners for Freddy Zamora. Zamora laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single that scored Lala and gave Miami the lead. Then, with the bases loaded, JP Gates knocked a hard grounder to first that Nate Eikhoff couldn’t handle, which allowed another two runs to score putting the ‘Canes up 5-2.
Virginia fought back in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of a bad call from the umpires that allowed a runner to reach first, which set up Jack Weiller’s second RBI double of the afternoon, and forced Miami to go to Daniel Federman out of the bullpen. Federman pitched a solid one and one thirds innings to hold the lead for Miami heading into the top of the eighth.
In the top of the eighth Greg Veliz trotted out to the bullpen to warm up to come into the game in a save situation, but a five run eighth inning from the ‘Canes meant Veliz could sit down and remain rested for a huge game against North Carolina Friday. Two walks and an error loaded the bases for Jordan Lala, and he worked a bases loaded walk to push in a run and make the score 6-3. Anthony Vilar and Freddy Zamora followed him with consecutive two-RBI singles that blew the game open, making the score 10-3 through seven and a half innings.
With the Hurricanes firmly in the lead Gino DiMare went to Slade Cecconi out of the bullpen. The freshman worked two innings, striking out four, in his first ever postseason appearance.
The Hurricanes now turn to face a talented North Carolina team in a Friday afternoon matchup that determines who will win Pool D of the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels sit on the hosting bubble, and a statement win over the ‘Canes to continue their run in Durham could push them closer to a Top 16 seed. For Miami, the stakes are equally as high, the hosting race is extremely tight, and a win over a team as talented as UNC could help Miami lock up a home regional when NCAA Tournament play begins next weekend.
Winning Pitcher: Brian Van Belle (9-2, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)
Losing Pitcher: Noah Murdock (3-6, 4.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K)
(Box score posted when available)
Date & Time: Friday, May 24, 3:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Not announced
North Carolina Starter: Not announced
Radio: 790 The Ticket
Television: Regional Sports Networks / ACC Network Extra