POSTED MAY 25 AT 5:02 P.M.
UPDATED MAY 25 AT 7:05 P.M.
Despite insisting that the Atlantic Coast Conference championship wasn’t on its list of priorities, No. 3 Miami took care of its final opponent Virginia for an 8-4 victory Sunday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville.
After playing 68 years of baseball, which include 51 straight winning seasons, 35 straight postseason appearances, and four national championships, Miami (47-8) won a conference championship for the first time. The Canes joined the ACC in 2004, the first time the team had been affiliated in its history.
Right fielder Dennis Raben, third baseman Mark Sobolewski and designated hitter Jason Hagerty each went 3-for-5 against the Cavaliers (38-21), with four RBI and three runs scored between them. Shortstop Ryan Jackson had two hits and two runs scored, a walk and an RBI.
A combination of five hits and ten batters in the top of the first inning put the Canes ahead 4-0, started by center fielder Blake Tekotte’s soft roller for an infield single. After a four-pitch walk to second baseman Jemile Weeks, Tekotte was thrown out on a double steal before Weeks stole third on the next pitch for his second stolen base of the inning.
First baseman Yonder Alonso walked for the second-straight free pass issued by lefty Pat McAnaney (4-5) before three straight singles by Sobolewski, Jackson and Raben with runners on the corners. Left fielder Dave DiNatale finished off the scoring for the Hurricanes with a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Jackson.
In the third, a four-pitch walk to Jackson began the inning. Raben got his second hit of the ballgame on a hard liner to right. DiNatale then executed a successful sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with one out. Hagerty followed with a base hit to right and scored Jackson. Catcher Yasmani Grandal singled on a slow chopper that couldn’t be turned for a double play to score Raben with runners at the corners. Tekotte doubled just out of the reach of the diving left fielder to make the score 7-0.
After cruising through five-plus innings by giving up only two hits and no runs, right-hander David Gutierrez (4-0) was solved by the Cavaliers who rallied with four runs off six hits in the bottom of the sixth. After four straight hits, Gutierrez was pulled for reliever Anthony Nalepa who got first baseman Jeremy Farrell to ground into a double play. With a runner at third, left fielder Dave Grovatt and designated hitter Phil Gosselin singled and doubled respectively.
The Canes scored an insurance run in the eighth when Weeks hit a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by the second baseman. Alonso grounded out to move Weeks to third and Sobolewski’s single to left brought him home to make the score 8-4.
Facing trouble in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Kyle Bellamy got a big 4-6-3 double play on a 3-2 count with runners at first and second and no out before Coleman flied out to left. It was one of four double plays turned by the Hurricanes during the game.
Bellamy recorded his third save in two and one-third innings pitched, striking out the final two batters with two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth.
“Overall we played good defense, pitched and hit well,” head coach Jim Morris said after Sunday’s win. “It’s a little bit of everything. It’s a credit to everyone how hard they worked.”
The Canes now will wait until tomorrow to find out where and when they will be playing in the NCAA tournament, having earned an automatic bid from their conference win. Virtually guaranteed of hosting a regional and likely a super regional, the Canes will begin postseason play on Friday. The regional host sites will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and the full 64-team bracket will be released at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
“The ACC Tournament is tougher than the NCAA Regional,” said Morris. “We’ve got more tough teams in this tournament than we’ll see in the regional without question. Every game is tough, no question about it and one through eight can play.”
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All-ACC tournament team
Buster Posey / Catcher / Florida State
Yonder Alonso / First Base / Miami
Jemile Weeks / Second Base / Miami**
Drew Martin / Third Base / NC State
Tommy Foschi / Shortstop / NC State
David Coleman / Outfield / Virginia**
Dave DiNatale / Outfield / Miami
Blake Tekotte / Outfield / Miami
Allan Dykstra / Utility/DH / Wake Forest
Matt Harvey / Pitcher / North Carolina
Chris Hernandez / Pitcher / Miami
Most Valuable Player