Miami baseball continues victory streak with Tar Heels win

Sophomore Zack Collins rounds the bases. He had the winning run in Saturday’s game. Photo courtesy
Sophomore Zack Collins rounds the bases. He had the winning run in Saturday’s game. Photo courtesy

Despite a sour ending, the Miami Hurricanes completed a successful weekend road trip, winning two out of three contests at the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

The series win was the third straight for Miami. The Canes remain at the top of the Coastal Division.

Miami (20-9, 8-4 ACC) won the first two games of the series in heart-stopping fashion, both by a score of 4-3, but UNC (16-11, 6-6 ACC) busted out in the series finale with a dominant 10-3 victory.

The series kicked off on a good note for the Hurricanes Friday night, when sophomore Johnny Ruiz knocked a RBI single up the middle to score sophomore Willie Abreu and give Miami a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth inning.

The top of the ninth saw Miami trailing 3-1 before tying the game on a two-run single from Abreu.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Bryan Garcia shut down the Tar Heels in the bottom of the frame for his fifth save of the season and sophomore righty Cooper Hammond (3-1) picked up the win in relief.

“We played well, they played well, and we did a great job of coming back,” head coach Jim Morris told “That’s probably what I’m most proud of, that we battled back there to get the last couple of runs.”

Nine innings wasn’t enough to decide Saturday night’s game.

Miami surged ahead in the tenth inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ruiz, but UNC answered in the bottom of the frame with two outs to tie the game at three.

Sophomore Zack Collins finally put Miami up for good in the top of the 11th inning, jacking a long home run to right-center field.

“It was a team effort. Both teams battled really, really hard,” said Morris, again to “I’m excited about the win.”

Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, a sweep was not in the cards on Sunday, as the Tar Heels earned a decisive 10-3 victory to salvage a game in the series.

North Carolina knocked around Hurricanes starter junior Enrique Sosa (3-3) to the tune of seven runs—all of them earned—off nine hits in just two-and-two-thirds innings pitched and Miami never recovered. UNC starter Benton Moss (4-0) struck out four and gave up just one earned run over six innings pitched.

In the seventh, three singles in a row from Brandon Lopez, Jacob Heyward and David Thompson loaded the bases for Zack Collins to hit a sacrifice fly to leftfield to making it 10-3.

Thompson’s single continued his hitting streak for a career-long 18 games.

Miami will open a nine-game homestand beginning 6 p.m. Wednesday against Bethune-Cookman.