The Miami Hurricanes secured a key victory on Thursday night, defeating Notre Dame 6-4 to begin the final weekend of the regular season. The victory eliminated Notre Dame from contention to win the ACC regular season title. Additionally, it meant Miami kept pace with Virginia Tech in the conference championship race after the Hokies defeated Duke 15-11 earlier on Thursday. Miami needs to match the amount of victories Virginia Tech has this weekend to finish first in the conference.
Thursday’s game was set to be one of the best pitching matchups in the entire country in the final week of the season. The first three innings of the game mostly lived up to that expectation, with Carson Palmquist and John Michael Bertrand combining for a perfect three innings in which neither allowed a hit or a baserunner. The closest either team came to scoring was when Jacob Burke robbed Carter Putz of a home run in the top of the first inning.
After the end of three innings both starting pitchers ran into trouble. Ryan Cole led off the fourth inning with a home run to open the scoring and give Notre Dame the lead. In the bottom of the frame John Michael Bertrand only recorded one out with the lead intact before allowing a game-tying home run to Yohandy Morales.
In the top of the fifth inning Palmquist worked out of a jam before Bertrand ran into more trouble in the bottom of the inning. A walk and a double put two runners on base with one out in the inning for Gaby Gutierrez. Gutierrez delivered quite possibly the most important hit of Miami’s season so far, a three-run home run to center field that put the Hurricanes in the lead.
Bertrand managed to stay in the game until the seventh inning despite the home run, eventually finishing with 6.1 IP, allowing Notre Dame to use just three pitchers in Thursday’s game. After Bertrand left the game in the seventh, Notre Dame immediately ran into more trouble. A two-out walk from Dominic Pitelli put a runner on base for Gaby Gutierrez, and for the second consecutive at-bat the Hurricanes left fielder hit a home run, this time to extend the lead to five.
Despite maintaining the five-run lead until the top of the ninth inning. Miami still went to Andrew Walters to finish the game. Walters struggled in his inning of work Thursday, allowing a three-run home run to Ryan Cole, his second of the game, before recording the final out. Miami will need Walters to be his best over the next several weeks, so hopefully he returns to form in his next apperance.
In Thursday’s game Gaby Gutierrez was responsible for driving in five of Miami’s six runs in one of the biggest wins of the Hurricanes season so far. Miami still needs to perform well over the next two days considering the victory from Virginia Tech on Thursday, and the conference champion may not be determined until the final day of the season. The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Friday on the ACC Network.
Winning Pitcher: Carson Palmquist (9-3, 5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K)
Losing Pitcher: John Michael Bertrand (7-2, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)