Season-best five home runs blasts Miami past Clemson

Alex Toral (30) celebrates with his teammates at home plate after blasting his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Alex Toral (30) celebrates with his teammates at home plate after blasting his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Hurricanes defeated Clemson 12-3 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

Riding momentum off a 3-2 walk-off midweek win over Florida Gulf Coast, the Miami Hurricanes faced the Clemson Tigers at home on Friday.

Miami right-handed starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario (4-2) took the mound after missing a prior start last Friday at Pittsburgh. The freshman pitched six full innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs, though also struck out a career-high nine batters.

First baseman Alex Toral hit two of UM’s five home runs and Miami (19-11, 11-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) defeated Clemson (15-15, 9-10 ACC) 12-3 in the series opener at Mark Light Field in a game where the team scored the most runs in a conference matchup all season. upon scoring the most runs in a conference matchup all season.

“It was one of our more complete games,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “All the way around, starting on the mound. Alejandro [Rosario] really set the tone, I thought he threw one of his better games. Seeing the movement, it looked like he had good movement on the ball from where I was standing. He threw his off-speed pitches much better; both the changeup and slider were very effective I thought.”

Leadoff hitter Jordan Lala scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third inning, as second baseman Anthony Vilar grounded out to Clemson starting pitcher Mack Anglin (1-2) to give Miami a 2-0 advantage.

UM led 4-0 in the fourth from Toral’s first home run of the night. Shortstop Dominic Pitelli then doubled down the right field line to score designated hitter Raymond Gil.

With a 9-1 advantage after six innings, junior reliever Spencer Bodanza replaced Rosario. The Tampa, Florida native struck out two in the seventh, though gave up two runs.

Toral, meanwhile, homered once again in the bottom of the fifth, ignited three-straight long balls in front of Pitelli’s and Rivera’s. The slugger’s home run reached the top of the Ponce de Leon Garage overlooking right field.

“I mean, I know I got all of it, I was going into that at-bat sitting on a changeup since the scouting report says he’s a changeup guy,” Toral said on Clemson reliever Evan Estridge. “He had thrown a bunch to the guys before me, and that’s what I was looking for. He left it up and as soon as I made contact, I actually stayed while watching this one, because I knew I got it pretty good.”

“I have only seen it a couple times, only once in a game, a live game,” DiMare said of Toral’s home run. “The last time it was done was a guy at Bethune-Cookman hit one against us in a regional, and I think we did it one time in practice. That’s the only time I’ve seen it, and that’s a long time ago the guy hit it for Bethune. I couldn’t believe when I saw it bounce, you know obviously it went up there and I couldn’t tell if it was up there but then I saw it bounce and I was like ‘Oh my goodness, I haven’t seen that in a long time.’”

Second baseman Sam Hall scored Clemson’s second run of the game on center fielder Bryce Teodosio’s fielder’s choice hit. Adding an RBI groundout was right fielder Dylan Brewer, scoring third baseman Max Wagner, but the Tigers still trailed 9-3 in the middle of the seventh.

Gil capped off the Hurricanes’ onslaught of runs with a three-run blast to left-center field in the eighth, as UM widened the margin to nine.

Relief pitcher Alex McFarlane tossed the final two frames, holding Clemson to one hit and no runs.

“Our offense really exploded there with the long ball and the extra base hits,” DiMare said. “I love the way we swung the bat today, and just hopefully we can build off of it.”

The Hurricanes and Tigers will battle again on Saturday at 6 p.m. as Miami seeks its seventh-straight home victory.