Freshman Mark Sobolewski and senior Gus Menendez provided late heroics in back-to-back games, helping Miami (20-14, 7-8 ACC) win its second straight conference series over Georgia Tech (21-13, 9-6 ACC).
Sobolewski’s walk-off three-run homerun in the bottom of the 11th inning on Saturday gave the Hurricanes a 5-2 victory. Earlier in the week, Sobolewski hit a game-tying two-run home run against Florida International to help the Hurricanes rally for three runs in a tenth-inning victory.
Menendez would follow with a career day on Sunday, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs as the designated hitter. Menendez tied the game at 7-7 after hitting a two strike, two out, three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field for his first round tripper of the season.
Menendez would once again deliver in the bottom of the ninth, lacing a walk-off single off Georgia Tech righthander Matt Wieters to left field, with runners at first and second base and one out, to cap a remarkable day at the plate.
“[Wieters] comes after you with a fastball, so I looked for a fastball,” Menendez said. “I tried to be aggressive and good things happened.”
Menendez also had two game-winning hits, against Clemson and UCLA, earlier this season.
Miami responded in the final two games of the series after losing the opening game, despite out-hitting the Yellow Jackets 11-7.
Freshman lefthander Eric Erickson was scratched minutes before the first pitch on Friday, after suffering a hand injury during batting practice. The Hurricanes were forced to start freshman Alex Koronis and used five additional relievers in the game.
Georgia Tech used timely hitting with two outs in a 9-2 victory, as Miami’s bullpen was burned on mistake pitches.
With Miami leading 2-1 in the third inning, designated hitter Wally Crancer hit a three-run home run off lefthander Teddy Kaufman. First baseman Tony Plagman then put the game out of reach, taking southpaw Dennis Raben deep for a two-run bomb in the seventh inning to make it 7-2.
With a taxed bullpen the previous day, the Hurricanes turned to lefthander Scott Maine for a much needed effective outing.
Maine had a strong start on Saturday, giving up a run while striking out seven in six innings.
“Scott Maine pitched outstanding today,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “He was dominating, and the rest of our staff pitched well also.”
Closer Danny Gil and Raben came through in relief, limiting Georgia Tech in extra innings despite working out of several jams.
Miami has proved to be resilient in the late innings at Mark Light Field, with six walk-off hits this season. The Hurricanes rallied from 4-0 and 7-4 deficits Sunday to complete the comeback.
The series victory was highlighted by the Hurricanes top of the order, with centerfielder Blake Tekotte and second baseman Roger Tomas providing consistency at the plate. Tekotte went 8-for-15 while Tomas drove in two runs and had five hits over three games.
With only the top eight teams earning spots in the ACC Tournament this season, Morris knew the importance of the series. “We are fighting for our position in the ACC right now,” Morris said. “Both teams had chances to win the game. We were fortunate enough to win.”
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.