After entering ACC play with an overall record of 5-8, the University of Miami baseball team has turned its season around with seven straight victories.
Miami (12-8, 6-0) swept Wake Forest last weekend in Winston-Salem behind solid pitching and late game heroics to remain undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“To start off in the ACC 6-0, that’s real big for us, especially to come up here and win these three games on the road,” sophomore Zeke DeVoss said.
Friday night’s starter, true freshman Bryan Radziewski, helped the Hurricanes stay strong during the team’s early struggles, and the lefty showed no signs of slowing down during the series opener against the Demon Deacons.
Radziewski tossed 6.1 innings, recording a career-high 10 strikeouts. He allowed one unearned run in a 4-1 Miami win, improving his ERA to 1.95 and his record to 3-1.
While Friday night’s victory was somewhat routine for the Hurricanes, Saturday afternoon’s contest was quite the opposite.
Miami trailed for nearly the entire game. Sophomore starter E.J. Encinosa surrendered one run in the second, fourth and fifth innings respectively to allow Wake Forest a 3-0 lead.
Miami scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning off of a two-out single from sophomore Stephen Perez to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Canes loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but were unable to plate any runners. Freshman reliever Adam Sargent kept the Demon Deacons at bay in the bottom of the frame, pitching a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Then came arguably the most dramatic ninth inning the Canes have played in 2011.
Zeke DeVoss led off the inning with a walk and then quickly attempted to steal second base. Demon Deacon relief pitcher John McLeod threw over to first and looked to have DeVoss picked off, but the Miami left fielder slid hard into second base and dislodged the ball from shortstop Jack Fischer’s glove.
After Stephen Perez struck out attempting to bunt, junior Nathan Melendres stepped up to the plate with one out and the Hurricanes down to their final two batters.
Melendres lined a first-pitch double down the right field line to tie the game, emphatically pounding his fists together as he arrived at second base.
“We started off kind of slow,” Melendres said. “Our team needed [the hit]…I was just trying to get the rest of the dugout pumped up, getting them into it.”
His enthusiasm certainly wasn’t lost on the next batter, junior Harold Martinez, who lined an 0-2 pitch past first baseman Matt Conway. The single easily scored Melendres to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead, but Miami wasn’t out of the woods just yet.
Junior closer Daniel Miranda took the mound in the bottom of the ninth looking to earn his second save in as many games, but loaded the bases with only one out.
The veteran reliever battled back, nailing the final batters on a strikeout and ground-out, cementing a dramatic come from behind victory for the Canes.
“It’s a great win,” Morris said. “We kept battling, got some big hits when we needed them late in the game.”
On Sunday Miami again battled back from behind, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead. The Canes did not look back, adding another run in a 5-3 victory to complete the sweep.
Adam Berger may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org