The eighth-ranked Hurricanes received a tough blow this weekend when they faced off with another top 10 team in Georgia Tech. Miami dropped two out of three to the third-ranked Yellow Jackets in what many called its most important regular season series in quite some time.
On Friday night, Georgia Tech arrived at Mark Light Field winners of its last 25 ACC games and at the end of the night, Miami put that streak to rest as UM blew out the Jackets 20-1. In the strangest of first innings, Miami had seven runs on the board before getting their first hit. The Yellow Jackets needed three pitchers to get out of the first inning as Miami led 9-0 after the frame and never looked back.
Pitcher Cesar Carrillo shut down a Georgia Tech lineup that combined was hitting .357 and had scored in double figures in 14 of its first 23 games. Carrillo went seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and has his ERA sitting at 1.12. With his performance, Carrillo was named ACC pitcher of the week for the second time this season. The Hurricanes are now 27-0 when Carrillo has appeared in a game.
Saturday afternoon saw Miami fall behind early after starter Ricky Orta gave up four runs in the first inning. The ‘Canes came back and tied the score at five in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Jackets broke it wide open thanks to a grand slam in the eighth inning and went on to win 17-7. Miami’s six pitchers yielded 22 hits on the day.
The rubber game of the series was much more of what fans expected. It featured five lead changes and 29 combined hits, yet the Hurricanes couldn’t hold on to a late lead and fell 11-10.
In a game with an inside the park homerun by Roger Tomas and a steal of home by Danny Figueroa, Georgia Tech benefited from a stiff wind blowing out of the ballpark. With the Hurricanes leading 9-6 in the eighth, the Yellow Jackets scored five runs, four earned, off of Miami closer Danny Gil to take an 11-9 lead. The ‘Canes stranded the tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth.
Head Coach Jim Morris feels Sunday’s game was a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s a tough game to lose because it was a huge game for us. You’re up by three runs with two innings left and two runs with one inning left, you got to win those games,” Morris said.
The Hurricanes were without their best hitter average-wise: Jon Jay was held out of Sunday’s ballgame with a banged up hand.
Miami will now face Oral Roberts for its only four game series of the season starting Thursday night. The series will give the Hurricanes a break from the ACC schedule with an 8-4 record in conference play thus far. They find themselves three games behind the Yellow Jackets, who sit atop the standings.
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at email@example.com.