Finesse overcame power Saturday night as sophomore Michael Mediavilla crafted a seven-inning, one-run performance to lead No. 6 Miami to a 6-3 win over No. 4 Louisville at Mark Light Field.
Mediavilla, a left-handed pitcher who throws his fastest pitches in the middle-to-upper 80s, pitched to contact throughout the night, allowing five hits and walking only one on just 87 pitches. His counterpart, Louisville lefty Brendan McKay, flashed the electric stuff that made him the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2015, but he couldn’t harness it consistently.
Mediavilla now has a 2.25 earned run average in 28 innings this season, while his 29 strikeouts lead the staff by 11. Coming off the back of a six-inning, one-run performance in his last start, Mediavilla said he focused on getting ahead of batters throughout the game.
“I really didn’t have my curveball but I worked with my pitches getting ahead of batters and kind of just making them put the ball in play now,” he said.
The win clinched the series for Miami (16-3, 4-1 ACC) handed Louisville its first ACC series loss of the season. The Hurricanes have won five in a row and are 11-1 since their series loss against Florida.
McKay’s night was shaky from the first pitch to his last. After firing in the first pitch for a strike, McKay was spoken to by the home plate umpire after Miami Coach Jim Morris came out to complain about something. After the game, Morris said he thought McKay was pitching from off the rubber, which is not allowed.
“Clearly looks form the dugout that he wasn’t [on the rubber], but [Norberto] Lopez said he was, our coach at first base said he was,” Morris said. “So you know what, if I can mess with him a little bit then go for it.”
But it didn’t seem to throw him off initially, as the southpaw fired three scoreless frames to start the game. Then junior left fielder Jacob Heyward launched a gargantuan two-run home run over the left-field scoreboard in the fourth inning, and McKay’s night was finished only an inning later.
“I’ve been feeling good the last few games,” Heyward said. “Picking the pitches I need to hit and the ones I didn’t, see the ball up. [McKay] had good stuff, but I just feel like it was me tonight.”
“Heyward has big power,” Morris said. “If he hits one to left and gets it, there’s no question it’s going out.”
McKay spiked his 100th and final pitch into the dirt and it rolled to the backstop for a wild pitch, moving junior right fielder Willie Abreu up to third in the fifth inning. With 100 tiring pitches and three runs under his belt after just 5 1/3 innings, McKay gave way to relief pitcher Lincoln Henzman. Miami’s own substitute, junior infielder Randy Batista, pinch-hit for sophomore designated hitter Peter Crocitto and drove a sacrifice fly to the outfield that scored Abreu and gave the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead.
McKay walked five batters across 5.1 innings after walking just nine in the 27.2 innings he pitched coming into the game. The four runs he surrendered were a career high.
Louisville (15-4, 3-2 ACC) added a run in the top of the eighth but Miami scraped across two more against Henzman in the bottom half. Junior closer Bryan Garcia, who entered the game to finish the eighth inning, got the final four outs while giving up his first earned run in conference play of the season, on back-to-back doubles in the ninth. He struck out batters for three of his four outs.
Miami looks for a series sweep Sunday afternoon at Mark Light Field. The game was moved up to 12:30 p.m. after fears of inclement weather later in the day.