The Hurricanes fell behind early for the sixth consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, and for the sixth time it didn’t matter, as No. 3 Miami took down No. 9 North Carolina 7-4 for the series sweep in front of 3,125 fans at Mark Light Field.
“It’s outstanding because we’re beating guys that are good too,” Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said of the come-from-behind wins against strong pitchers on UNC and No. 17 Clemson. “It’s a very positive thing to know that our guys will keep battling against these type [of] guys.”
Sophomore center fielder Carl Chester had Miami’s first three hits and reached base five times on Sunday. “I felt good at the plate, taking some pitches, seeing some pitches, putting the ball in play,” said Chester, who also reached base 13 times in Miami’s sweep against Clemson last weekend.
North Carolina struck first with three runs on three hits and two walks in the second inning. Left-handed junior Danny Garcia had his shortest outing of the season, leaving the game with two outs in the fourth inning and the bases loaded. Right-handed freshman Keven Pimentel got shortstop Logan Warmoth to ground out to get out of the jam.
After mustering just two hits in four scoreless innings, the Canes scored five runs in the fifth on three hits and three walks. Junior catcher Zack Collins came up with the bases loaded and no outs, but Miami’s star slugger struck out swinging on three pitches against right-handed reliever A.J. Bogucki.
That brought up Jacob Heyward, who struck out with the bases loaded to end the third inning and three times overall in the game. The junior left fielder had no such struggles in this at-bat though, smoking a two-run double over center fielder Tyler Ramirez’s head.
“It was a big hit, man. Big hit for the team,” Heyward said.
The Canes (23-4, 10-2) next tied the game on a wild pitch and took the lead on a sac-fly. Senior shortstop Brandon Lopez walked and scored the fifth run of the frame by avoiding a tag at home plate on a single to right by junior right fielder Willie Abreu.
Right-handed freshman Andrew Cabezas took the mound in the top of Miami’s huge fifth inning and retired the next seven batters. Cabezas (2-0) ran into some trouble in the seventh after giving up two singles, but fellow right-handed freshman Frankie Bartow induced a pop-up and struck out right fielder Adam Pate to end the inning.
“I just wanted to get Danny out of it and give our boys … I mean they’ve been hitting great coming back every game this series, and I just wanted to give them the opportunity once again,” Cabezas said.
North Carolina (20-7, 6-6) made it 5-4 in the top of the eighth on a two-out single followed by a double off Bartow. Junior closer Bryan Garcia finished off the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 34th career save, tied for third-most in UM history with Robbie Morrison.
The Canes added two insurance runs for Garcia in the bottom of the eighth as UNC pitchers struggled to find the plate. Collins walked in a run on four pitches with the bases loaded and Chester scored on a wild pitch.
Miami, 20-3 at home this season, has now won seven straight and 18 of its last 20 games. The Canes next play Florida Gulf Coast at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Fort Myers.