Carl Chester’s effort was evident – one could tell just from looking at his uniform that was covered with orange dirt. The junior center-fielder gave it his all on Friday night, and the results followed suit.
Chester, who had a career day hitting 4-4 with two doubles and twp RBIs, smiled from ear to ear in knowing that the University of Miami had just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 10-8 victory over No. 23 Georgia Tech to open up ACC play at Mark Light Field.
Miami, who entered the game ranked dead-last in hitting of all division-one programs, had a season-high 10 hits, including five extra-base hits, as the Canes (5-8, 1-0 ACC) won their first game since getting swept by the crosstown foe FIU Panthers.
“I think hitting was just contagious tonight,” Chester said. “From inning one, we were swinging the bat and putting the ball in play, which is something we’ve been struggling with all year. We really opened it up tonight.”
Georgia Tech loaded the bases in the ninth inning and plated a run, but sophomore closer Frankie Bartow finished off his third save of the year by retiring Chase Murray on a line-out to a running James Davison.
“It’s a big win for us, needless to say,” UM Coach Jim Morris said. “We’ve been battling, and our guys are working hard and playing hard. They haven’t been getting a lot of breaks.”
Freshman reliever Albert Maury Jr. (0.75 ERA) earned his first career win pitching 2.1 innings with a career-high four strikeouts while allowing just one hit.
“Honestly, the [individual] win for me doesn’t really mean anything,” Maury Jr. said. “It’s the team win that means the most. We’ve been struggling, but we’re taking every day as a new day, competing every day and doing what we can to win ball games.”
The Yellow Jackets (9-3, 0-1 ACC) came into the game averaging 9.5 runs per game and hitting .339 as a team, yet the Canes were able to pull out big hits of their own in the slugfest.
The Hurricanes scored a pair of runs in each of the first three innings to jump out in front. However, the Yellow Jackets rallied back and took a 7-6 lead in the top of the fifth.
Miami answered by scoring two in the bottom of the fifth with a Romy Gonzalez triple followed by a walk, and then a Michael Burns RBI.
The Canes’ bullpen of Maury Jr. and sophomore set-up-man Andrew Cabezas shut down the resilient Yellow Jackets lineup, bridging the gap to Bartow after starter Jesse Lepore was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits over 4.1 innings of work.
Chester tacked on two insurance runs for Miami in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-RBI double, giving the Hurricanes a 10-7 advantage. Bartow came in, gave up one to Georgia Tech, but then stranded the bases to end the match.
“We’re 1-0 in the conference,” Morris said. “A lot of times when you have good seasons, you look at when it turned if you struggled early. Hopefully today is the day that turns it for us, and we start winning more and more games.”
UM wore white and pink jerseys in honor of breast cancer awareness.