In a game that set an ACC Tournament record for most home runs hit with eight, it was only fitting that the winning runs would come via a four-bagger in dramatic fashion in a back-and-forth ballgame.
Left fielder Dave DiNatale hit a three-run homer, his second of the game, with one out in the top of the ninth to give top-seeded Miami (45-8) a 14-12 lead it would extend to 15-12 against Georgia Tech (39-18) after losing a 10-5 advantage in the bottom of the eighth.
Reliever Carlos Gutierrez took the win (4-2) for the Hurricanes while Brad Rulon (3-1) suffered the loss.
After a lead-off walk to shortstop Ryan Jackson and a single off the bat of right fielder Dennis Raben put runners at first and second with no out, a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Adan Severino set up the at-bat of DiNatale’s. The Hurricanes would add a run off second baseman Jemile Week’s single to right center for the 15th run.
The Yellow Jackets loaded the bases on a walk and two singles with nobody out the inning before and took a 12-11 lead on a wild pitch and error by catcher Yasmani Grandal to score two runs.
Center fielder Blake Tekotte led off the game with a line-drive home run to right field, his 10th of the season, and went 4-for-5 with a walk, three runs scored and three stolen bases.
Miami used a two-out rally in the third inning to extend its to lead 4-0 when Tekotte dropped a blooper into left field and scored on Weeks’s fifth triple of the year. The next batter, first baseman Yonder Alonso, blasted his 20th homer to deep center.
However, in the bottom of the inning, starter Eric Erickson faced some trouble with the bottom of the Yellow Jackets’ lineup when the first batter of the inning, left fielder Chris House, chopped a ball up the middle that Weeks threw into the stands. With House on second, the next hitter was hit by a pitch, which set up a two-run single to left by lead-off hitter Charlie Blackmon. After getting a pop out with runners at second and third on the first pitch, right fielder Dennis Raben had a ball hit the heel of his glove and pop out for a two-run double to tie the game at four.
Georgia Tech took the lead for the first time in the fifth when Blackmon doubled to right field and advanced on a grounder to Weeks. Two straight singles to left drove in a run and put runners on first and second with one out, which forced Erickson out of the ballgame.
Reliever David Gutierrez came in and got an out before pinch hitter Jeff Rowland ripped a hard single to center. The runner held at third to load the bases. On a full count to designated hitter Luke Murton, Gutierrez got a ground out to Jackson to end the inning and threat.
Alonso hit his second homer of the game in the fifth to reclaim the lead, a two-run shot and his 21st of the season.
Scoring continued in the sixth as both teams brought four runs home.
With two outs, the Canes hit back-to-back homers, a two-run shot by left fielder Dave DiNatale to opposite field and a solo long ball to straight-away center off the bat of Grandal. Tekotte pulled off a bunt single and stole both second and third and came home on a wild pitch to increase the score to 10-5.
In the bottom of the inning, after a walk and double, a grounder to Alonso made the score 10-6. Tech came back with their own set of back-to-back homers by Jeff Rowland on a two-run blast and Luke Murton on a solo one, to cut the lead to 10-9.
Lefty starter Eric Erickson (7-1) went just 3 1/3 innings for the Canes and gave up five runs on nine hits with only one strikeout while Yellow Jackets lefty starter David Duncan (7-3) went 5 2/3 innings and was charged with 10 runs on 10 hits.
Miami has an off day tomorrow before taking on fourth-seeded N.C. State in game three of the ACC Tournament Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be televised on SUN Sports (channel 38 on campus) and broadcast on the radio by WVUM 90.5 FM.
To see DiNatale’s home run, click here
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at email@example.com.