Canes fall to Duke, get eliminated from conference championship contention

Jake Smith pitched five scoreless innings for the Miami Hurricanes in the 3-2 loss to Duke on May 27. Photo credit: Tim Brogdon/Miami Athletics
Jake Smith pitched
Jake Smith pitched five scoreless innings for the Miami Hurricanes in the 3-2 loss to Duke on May 27. Photo credit: Tim Brogdon/Miami Athletics

The Hurricanes are out of the ACC Tournament championship conversation with one more game to play tomorrow. Miami’s 3-2 loss to the Duke Blue Devils sealed its Pool D fate. Friday’s matchup with Florida State is now irrelevant in terms in conference tournament implications.

Duke catcher Michael Rothenberg singlehandedly erased Miami’s 2-0 lead in the seventh with a two-run single. He then launched a walk-off solo home run in the ninth to send the Blue Devils to the final four of the ACC.

“One pitch, one hit, that does it,” said Miami head coach Gino DiMare.

UM (32-18, 20-15 ACC) will be either 0-2 or 1-1 in pool play after Friday. Duke meanwhile goes 2-0 in the three-team grouping after Wednesday’s 12-1 win over the ‘Noles and will advance to the tournament semifinals.

“Tough one there,” said DiMare. “Thought the game in phases, [was] pretty well played, except for the fact that we didn’t do a good job offensively, leaving way too many guys on base. “[We] told our guys multiple times, [that] it’s going to bite us if we don’t watch out. Can’t expect our bullpen to be perfect every game.”

Closer Carson Palmquist earned his first loss of the season, the first time in 2021 he has given up the losing run in 14 high-leverage situations (13 saves and one win).

Starter Jake Smith threw five scoreless innings for Miami, Spencer Bodanza allowed two earned runs in one and 1/3 frames and Daniel Federman retired two of three batters faced in the eighth without allowing a run.

“Our pitchers threw good. Those guys in the back end of our bullpen are really good,” DiMare said.

The Canes scored two runs in the top of the sixth, one off a Yohandy Morales double to center and another off a throwing error by Duke shortstop Ethan Murray.

But Miami was otherwise silenced by Blue Devil starter Jack Carey (6 IP) and reliever Marcus Johnson (3 IP), who combined for 11 strikeouts, just six hits and one earned run.

“We’re hitting balls hard,” said Morales. “They just weren’t falling.”

The loss to Duke is UM’s first of 2021, following a sweep over the Blue Devils in Coral Gables April 2-4. The Hurricanes will look to notch their first win of the season over FSU at 3 p.m. Friday.

While the Canes cannot advance beyond tomorrow’s game, they can still play for any NCAA Tournament seeding questions that may remain unanswered.

“We have to turn the page. One game is not the end of the season. We have to be ready to play tomorrow against FSU. Going 1-1 in here is a lot different, in my opinion, than going 0-2,” Morales said. “We need a win. A game we all want…[NCAA tournament] seeding is still going on.”

Latest tournament projections

D1 Baseball released updated NCAA Tournament projections Thursday.

UM has moved up into a No. 2 regional seed slot after spending weeks as a projected No. 3 seed. D1 slates the Hurricanes in the Gainesville Regional, alongside host Florida, Fairfield University and Wofford College.

The field of 64 and regional pairings are to be announced May 31, a day after the completion of the ACC Tournament. 16 hosts will also be announced from a predetermined list of 20 sites, of which the Canes are not included.