During a highly-emotional series that earned national media attention, the Miami Hurricanes baseball team came together in all aspects of the game and earned their first conference road series sweep of the season.
At Friday night’s game, Virginia Tech (17-23, 4-17 ACC), a school recovering from the murder of 32 people on campus earlier in the week, seemed to resume business as usual on the field with the ‘Canes.
Before the first game, Head Coach Jim Morris presented a check for $10,000 for the Hokie Spirit Fund on behalf of the University of Miami. The team and spectators then observed a 32-second silence before the first pitch. The ‘Canes also wore black wristbands at each game to commemorate those who died.
Offense dominated the first game of the series, but clutch defense won it for the Hurricanes (25-17, 11-10 ACC) in the end. The game featured 20 total runs and 21 hits, and the ‘Canes won 11-9, but the outcome remained in doubt up to the last pitch.
Right fielder Dennis Raben led a steady offensive attack for the ‘Canes, reaching base four times, driving in one run. His streak of consecutive games hitting a homerun ended, however, at four games. Catcher Richard O’Brien and third baseman Mark Sobolewski each had two hits for the ‘Canes. Pitcher Scott Maine gave up only four hits and one earned run in six innings, securing his third win of the season.
In the eighth inning, first baseman Yonder Alonso added his 11th homerun of the season, a solo shot, which put the ‘Canes ahead 10-5. The game was not over, however, until left fielder Nick Freitas went over the wall to take away Hokies’ shortstop Warren Schaeffer’s potential game-tying homerun with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The catch helped Miami pitcher Danny Gil get off the hook and gave him his third save of the season.
Saturday night’s game was a lower-scoring change of pace from the first, but the result, a 4-3 victory for the ‘Canes, was the same. Starter Enrique Garcia struck out seven in seven innings while holding the Hokies to two runs on five hits.
The hero for the ‘Canes, however, was O’Brien, who went 2-3 at the plate with a walk and also played brilliant defense. O’Brien, starting in place of Jason Hagerty this weekend, picked two Hokies off of first base and caught another two stealing, which eliminated four of the Hokies’ ten base runners.
The Hurricanes put it all together in Sunday’s 9-5 victory, completing their ACC series sweep of Va. Tech. Sobolewski, Raben, and Jemile weeks combined for nine hits and starter Eric Erickson returned after two missed starts to pick up his 5th win of the year, putting the team over the .500 mark in conference play at 11-10. Raben drove in the game winning run with a two run homer with two outs in the fifth inning, putting the ‘Canes up 6-5. The bullpen sustained the lead by throwing four shutout innings after Erickson left the game, two each by David Gutierrez and Alex Koronis.
The series was the ‘Cane’s second to last road series of the year. The team heads home for a seven-game home stand this Saturday when they host Stetson at Mark Light Field.
T.J. Eisenstein contributed to this article.
Dan Stein may be contacted at email@example.com.