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Miami dominates NC State in late innings to win first ACC series

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The Hurricanes defeated the NC State Wolfpack behind third baseman Yohandy Morales’ two solo home runs, after dropping its ACC opening series to Virginia Tech.

Kent State at Miami
Hurricanes center fielder Tony Jenkins hits an RBI single during the fourth inning versus Kent State at Mark Light Field on Feb. 19, 2020 (Coral Gables, Fla.).
David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Freshman third baseman Yohandy Morales hit a solo home run in the sixth and seventh innings each, and No. 6 Miami (5-4, 3-3 ACC) defeated No. 24 NC State (4-6, 1-5 ACC) 6-4 in the weekend’s rubber game.

Freshman closer Carson Palmquist fanned NC State catcher Luca Tresh to give the Hurricanes their first conference series victory of the season, as the native of Fort Myers, Fla. registered his fourth save of the year. Freshman pitcher Anthony Arguelles, a Sante Fe College transfer, improved to 3-0 out of the bullpen, while NC State reliever Chris Villaman fell to 0-2.

With the Canes scoreless in the top of the sixth inning, sophomore left fielder Jordan Lala walked and stole second base to give his team its first runner in scoring position since the third frame.

Sophomore second baseman Anthony Vilar stepped into the left side of plate and hit a two-run blast off left-handed reliever Chris Villaman, tying the game at two.

Miami, however, was nowhere near finished with nobody out. After Morales’ solo blast to center, consensus preseason All-American catcher Adrian Del Castillo knocked one out of the park — his first of the year.

Right fielder Christian Del Castillo singled to left field after freshman catcher Carlos Perez, pinch hitting for designated hitter Alex Toral, struck out looking. Miami then loaded the bases on three-straight walks from junior center fielder Tony Jenkins, freshman shortstop Dominic Pitelli, and Lala, though could not add more as Vilar struck out.

NC State ignited an early 2-0 lead in the fourth inning behind left fielder Jonny Butler’s home run, scoring Tresh who earned a four-pitch walk.

In another attempt to answer Miami’s late rally, right fielder Devonte Brown led off the sixth with a walk, and shortstop Jose Torres, having scored two runs in as many hits in the opener, hit an RBI sacrifice fly to center field.

The Canes still led the Wolfpack 5-4 heading into the seventh inning, however. Freshman pitcher Alex McFarlane, despite owning a 5.25 ERA through six appearances last season, replaced right-handed starter Victor Mederos (0-0, 4.8 ERA) in the sixth inning and allowed only one hit.

Late-inning reliever Ben Wanger took the hill for the final two outs of the sixth inning, striking out first baseman Austin Murr on a 1-2 count. He was replaced by Arguelles, held the Wolfpack hitless and relinquished just one walk through one-and-one-third innings pitched.

Finishing with a game-high 3-for-5 plate performance, Morales led off the seventh inning by replicating his sixth-inning home run with another to center field for Miami’s final hit of the series. No Canes batters would reach base in the final two frames.

Besides a single to left field in the bottom of the eighth that eventually saw NC State second baseman J.T. Jarrett reach second base, the Wolfpack failed to get other runners in scoring position in the final two innings.

Palmquist, who threw two scoreless innings in Miami’s win on Saturday, mirrored his late-game dominance in the eighth and ninth innings in striking out three batters, having faced seven total.

Murr grounded out to Kayfus and center fielder Tyler McDonough flew out to center field in the final chance for the Wolfpack. Palmquist closed the door on NC State with a five-pitch swinging strikeout to Tresh.

Winning its second of three series played, Miami once again relied upon the final two games in order to defeat its weekend opponent.

Miami is scheduled to play Florida Atlantic in its first midweek game of the season on Tuesday, as the Canes and the Owls will take the field inside Mark Light Field at 6 p.m.