After a 10-0 rout over Wake Forest in the opening game of their weekend series, the Miami Hurricanes remained in search for their second consecutive series win in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
Faced with another close-game battle, the team knew it was going to have to rely on its steadfast bullpen including sophomore reliever Anthony Arguelles and freshman closer Carson Palmquist in the late innings.
Sophomore second baseman Anthony Vilar hit a two-run home run through the right side, freshman right-handed starter Victor Mederos struck out seven, and Miami (8-4, 5-3 ACC) narrowly defeated Wake Forest (3-6, 1-4 ACC) 4-3 on Saturday night at Mark Light Field.
The win, however, would not come without soon after realizing that the series finale would be canceled due to Wake Forest’s shorthanded rotation, which has remained in isolation due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“Well, they’re probably dancing on tables in the locker room right now, because they got the day off tomorrow, which is not normal” said DiMare on the team’s festive atmosphere having won another conference series while being able to rest on Sunday. “That’s a very unique situation that with COVID, here we go. Our first situation where we gotta deal with it, but because they [Wake Forest] have been hit with COVID, we knew this was a possibility coming into this series that they might only be able to play two [games].”
The third-year head coach added that the team will likely not practice Sunday, due to a potential lack of productivity.
Wake Forest first baseman Bobby Seymour hit a solo home run to center field, tying the ball game at one run apiece through the sixth inning. The Demon Deacons took advantage from there, as third baseman Brock Wilken added a two-run shot to give his team a 3-1 lead.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning after Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken’s two-run home run, Miami decided to play its resiliency card once again after a similar display witnessed at Doak Field versus NC State last week.
“It kind of felt like the game today going into it was going to be kind of like this,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Playing a game like we did last night, it’s hard to duplicate that in baseball. So, I just felt like this game was going to be one of those where their team and our team would probably be going to the bullpen, and it was a closer game. But I was happy to see [how] we fell behind and answered right back, big home run there by Anthony Vilar, who hit the two-home run to tie it.”
Sophomore catcher Adrian Del Castillo launched a two-run home run, his only hit on the night, two at-bats after Vilar’s solo blast to put the Canes back on top, 4-3.
“Not do too much,” Del Castillo said on his approach in his go-ahead at-bat. “The guy [Wake Forest reliever Brennan Oxford] was warming up and I saw him throwing curve balls in the dirt, very in front of the plate. So, I kind of took that out of the equation and just waited for a fastball, and I ended up getting it.”
Though DiMare had planned on bringing in Arguelles in sooner than the middle of the fifth inning, the Miami native still excelled on the hill and picked up his fourth win on the year.
“I’ve seen a kid that’s stepped up huge, we needed a kid to step up for us from the right side, and multiple kids from the bullpen,” Palmquist said. “That kid, he just has heart, loves to go out there; not scared of anyone and not going to back down from anything.”
Palmquist replaced Arguelles with two outs in the seventh inning, not allowing a single hit or run while striking out four Demon Deacons batters.
“Mostly fastballs, but I mixed in a couple of changeups that were working alright,” said Palmquist on his successful pitches. “I tried to throw a few sliders in the last inning that didn’t break too much, I just gotta work on that a little bit.”
With no in-game action scheduled until Wednesday against Florida Gulf Coast (9-4), Miami still needs to figure out a scenario for starter Daniel Federman (0-2, 8.1 ERA) to throw enough while missing a start.
“We need him to throw, so we’ve got to make sure we set something up for him to be able to throw,” DiMare said.
DiMare noted that this alternative setting would not be able to engage in a simulate game, however.
“The guys are very happy,” DiMare said. “They’re confident right now, I think we’re playing pretty well as a team. We gotta continue to get better, but they’re excited for the two wins and also the fact that they got tomorrow off.”
Miami and Florida Gulf Coast will take the field at Swanson Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.