Canes drop weekend series to Hokies

Miami's Harold Martinez (#9), INF, hitting for Miami after a pitch by VT, VT vs. Miami, March 11, 2010, Blacksburg, Virginia. Courtesy Niels Göran Blume

For the first time since the series against University of Florida, the Hurricanes were tested against a ranked team.

The No. 9 Miami Hurricanes suffered two close losses to No. 25 Virginia Tech this weekend, dropping their first road series of the year in disappointing fashion at English Field in Blacksburg Va. The Hurricanes (23-9, 11-4) had leads in both games they lost.

Cruising through his first five innings in the series opener, starter Chris Hernandez endured a meltdown in the sixth inning that would prove costly in an eventual 9-7 loss.  After a three-run home run from junior outfielder Chris Pelaez keyed a big top half of the sixth for the Canes, the junior lefty departed after allowing four hits and four runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Despite a twelve-hit showing from the offense, Miami batters could not bail out the typically reliable Hurricane bullpen, which allowed four runs in relief. Junior catcher Yasmani Grandal was perfect at the plate, finishing 4-for-4 with two runs scored in the loss.

The Hurricanes’ line-up continued to fire on all cylinders Saturday afternoon, and a shutdown performance from lefty Eric Erickson proved too much for the Hokies (23-11, 8-7) to handle. The Canes smacked four home runs on the day, including two two-run shots from Grandal and another from Pelaez, in a 9-2 rout. Erickson threw seven brilliant innings on the mound, allowing only four hits while striking out five.

Despite the offensive barrage and the quality start from the junior lefty, the most impressive performance of the day came from freshman centerfielder Zeke DeVoss.

A breathtaking grab in the fourth inning from DeVoss earned him the No. 1 spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. Tracking down a hard hit fly ball from Hokie shortstop Tim Smalling, DeVoss leapt towards the center field wall with glove outstretched to make what was unquestionably the most impressive catch of the season.

At the plate, DeVoss helped to key the offensive outpour with a 2-for-4 performance, including a three-run home run and four RBI.

Looking for a win to clinch the series on Sunday afternoon, the Canes had the misfortune of running into Hokie righty and probable first-round MLB Draft selection Jesse Hahn. The junior baffled Canes’ hitters throughout his seven innings of work, finishing with nine strikeouts and only four hits allowed in the Hokies’ 4-2 win.

Senior righty Jason Santana, one of the team’s most pleasant surprises as a third starter, had another solid outing for the Hurricanes.  The Miami native allowed only three earned runs in his six innings of work, but the even more dominant combination of Hahn and closer Ben Rowan ended the Canes’ chances at a third straight road series win.

The Canes’ return to action Wednesday with a midweek showdown against Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers before a crucial home series against No. 20 North Carolina.  As always, all Hurricane baseball games can be heard on 90.5 WVUM The Voice.

Camron Ghorbi may be contacted at