In a statement win on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes completed their two games to one series win over the Clemson Tigers in Death Valley, S.C.
After trouncing the Tigers 10-3 on Friday night to break a seven-game losing streak against their rivals, the ‘Canes went softly into the Saturday night in a 4-1 defeat. This set up the pivotal game three on Sunday afternoon, in which the ‘Canes showed the most character they have all season in a gutsy come-from-behind win.
After an 85 minute rain delay stopped the game in the sixth inning with the Tigers leading 5-4, the Hurricanes came out determined and locked down a win against the No.11 Tigers.
The ‘Canes rally was keyed by three straight hits to start the top of the seventh inning. After Clemson closer Daniel Moskos came in and induced outfielder Dennis Raben into a double play, Miami Head Coach Jim Morris sent Infielder Gus Menendez to the plate as a pinch hitter. Morris was rewarded with a two run single and a 6-5 lead in the ballgame. First Baseman Yonder Alonso then drove in a run with an RBI single in the eighth to give the ‘Canes some breathing room.
Danny Gil was credited with the win after three solid innings of relief, and the ‘Canes had the potential breakthrough win they have been searching for all season.
Friday night’s win was the type of catharsis that showed once again why it is much too early to count this team out of national title contention. Alonso hit two home runs for the Hurricanes, in addition to a three-run home run from Dennis Raben which blew the game open for the Hurricanes. Raben then pitched two scoreless innings in relief of starter Eric Erickson, who earned the win for the ‘Canes in a quality start. Erickson pitched six innings and gave up only three runs, all in the third inning.
Saturday’s loss was forgettable, as the ‘Canes managed only three hits off of the Tigers and at no point managed to get much going for them. The lack of an offense undermined a solid performance from starter Scott Maine and the Miami pitching staff.
This series win was big for the Hurricanes in several ways. Obviously, breaking a long losing streak to a conference rival is always a significant moment for a team. It was also the first road series win for the Hurricanes during ACC play this season, and showed once again that this team will go in and compete with any team in any location.
While losses like Saturday’s are discouraging, it is the response that is more indicative of a team’s mettle. On Sunday, the Hurricanes showed that they are every bit as dangerous as their Friday night performance would indicate, sandwiching a rough game with two stellar performances. The Hurricanes’ record is not impressive at this point in the season, but this weekend highlighted once again why they are a legitimate dark horse to make a run deep into the ACC and NCAA tournaments as this season continues toevolve.
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.