For the second time in as many weekends, the No. 8 University of Miami baseball team opened up their closet doors, took out their brooms and swept their weekend opponent.
UM (10-2, 3-0) began ACC play in style, as they beat North Carolina State University (7-5, 0-3) at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field 7-6 in 12 innings Friday, blanked the Wolfpack 4-0 Saturday and rallied from a seven run deficit Sunday to win 9-7.
The Canes overcame a seven run deficit for the first time since April of last season, when they beat FAU 12-10 after being down 10-3 through four innings.
“That is Miami baseball,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “I have seen it so many times since I have been here. I have seen it from both dugouts. I have been on the wrong dugout when that happens. Miami baseball…unbelievable.”
Heading into this weekend, it seemed like Mother Nature was the only thing that could slow down the Wolfpack. They came into South Florida riding a seven game win streak. Last weekend, two of their games were postponed due to rain and one postponed because of snow. Mother Nature is still not kind to N.C. State as the Hurricanes swept the Wolfpack in the three game series for the first time ever.
Despite the fact that UM is a young ball club (12 freshman and three new transfers) this team is resilient. UM battled back twice Friday night in order to win. Down 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, things were not looking good for the Hurricanes. Junior ace Chris Hernandez was on the hook for the first loss of his career, but suddenly the tides turned.
With two outs, junior Jason Haggerty turned a routine single into a double, to set up runners at second and third. The next batter, freshman Harold Martinez, delivered a two RBI single up the middle, to cut the lead to 5-4.
In the ninth, junior Chris Herrmann worked a leadoff walk and ended up tying the game at five on a wild pitch.
After pre season All-American junior Kyle Bellamy surrendered an unearned run in the 12th, Miami trailed 6-5. The Hurricanes had their final licks in the bottom half of the inning.
With two outs and no body on, junior Ryan Jackson worked a full count walk to prolong the inning for Hagerty. Hagerty, whose average had been dipping, belted a high fastball, two pitches later, over the Holiday Inn sign in right centerfield for a two out, two run, walk off home run.
“I was just really happy,” Hagerty said. “It was a back and forth game and any way I can help us out was awesome. It was the best swing I took all day, so I knew it was gone.”
Saturday, David Gutierrez was dominant. The reigning ACC pitcher of the week picked up the win, after pitching six innings of shutout baseball and only allowing three hits. His ERA is now a microscopic 0.50.
Gutierrez worked out of a bases loaded no out situation in the sixth. He forced a strikeout and induced a remarkable 6-4-3 double play. Jackson dove to his left, flipped to junior second baseman Scott Lawson, who bare handed the ball and fired to Martinez at first.
“Being mentally tough and confident [helps me get out of those situations],” said Gutierrez, of the jam. “I was a reliever my freshman year and would come in with guys on base all the time, so I have some experience.”
Just when you think the Hurricanes ran out of magic, they had an even more impressive come from behind victory Sunday.
Down 7-0 after three innings, the Hurricanes looked like they were going to hand N.C. State a victory, but Morris decided to put the baseball in the hands of his bullpen. The bullpen was flawless in relief of sophomore Iden Nazario. The bullpen pitched seven innings of scoreless baseball to help stop the bleeding. In the last 36 innings pitched, the bullpen has only allowed three earned runs.
Senior Jason Santana was phenomenal in relief, pitching 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three.
The Canes slowly but surely chipped away at the lead. Hagerty had an RBI triple in the fourth. Then the Hurricanes batted around the order and scored seven times on seven hits in the fifth inning.
In the top of the eighth, the Wolfpack had the bases loaded with two outs and the tying run at third base. Morris brought in his stud closer Bellamy to get out of the jam. All Bellamy needed was three pitches to strikeout the batter.
“Fastball, fastball, slider,” Bellamy said of the crucial out.
Bellamy earned his fourth save of the season and now has 18 strikeouts on the young season, compared to just four walks.
“Everyone knows we have a young team,” said Bellamy, after Sunday’s performance. “For us to bounce back like that was huge, and it shows that we have a lot of character. Being down seven runs early, we could have just given up and thrown in the towel.”
The Hurricanes next game is Tuesday at 6 p.m. against St. Joseph’s at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The broadcast can be heard on 90.5 FM WVUM.