‘Going on the road brings us together’: Miami visits top-20 Clemson for first ACC road series

Freshman outfielder Zach Levenson runs to first base during Miami's rubber game against Florida on Sunday, March 6, 2022 at Mark Light Field.
Freshman outfielder Zach Levenson runs to first base during Miami's rubber game against Florida on Sunday, March 6, 2022 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

The first road test in the Atlantic Coast Conference lies ahead for Miami baseball.

But before the Hurricanes arrived in Clemson, South Carolina, they lost their first midweek matchup of the season to Central Florida in front of a sold-out crowd in Orlando.

Now, Miami has a chance to put its first midweek matchup loss behind it with a series win over No. 18 Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium Friday at 6 p.m.

“Going on the road brings us together,” freshman second baseman Dorian Gonzalez Jr. said. “When we’re on the road, it’s us, not just against the team we’re playing, but the town that we’re in. We have to stay together and pull through.”

The Hurricanes swept the Tigers in Coral Gables last April before finishing ACC play 20-15 and a ½ game behind ACC Coastal champion Georgia Tech. Clemson (14-2) won 14 straight contests to begin the season, but welcomes its ACC foe with back-to-back losses to Northeastern and Georgia State.

Sophomore starter Carson Palmquist (3-1, 5.21 ERA) will take the starting mound Friday. The left-hander picked up his first loss of the season after relinquishing nine earned runs through 3 2/3 innings in UM’s 12-11 loss to Boston College last Friday.

Freshman Karson Ligon (2-1, 1.71 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday, meanwhile, with the team’s starting arm still to be announced for Sunday.

Clemson has yet to defeat UM in three games and will send right-hander Mack Anglin, who holds a perfect 3-0 start to 2022, Friday. The 6-foot-4 sophomore also retains an ERA of 1.71.

Taking control of the leadoff spot in Miami’s lineup hasn’t been problematic for sophomore first baseman CJ Kayfus. The Wellington, Florida, native is riding a seven-game hitting streak, dating back to the team’s annual series with in-state rival Florida. He also leads Miami (11-5, 2-1 ACC) with 19 RBI and a .339 average.

Out of the bullpen, right-hander Gage Ziehl has made the most appearances (eight) for Miami, allowing only three earned runs in his freshman campaign.

“When the environment is as big as it is, your adrenaline is definitely pumping,” Ziehl said. “It gets you excited. I feed off the crowd’s energy, it helps me pitch better.”

Eight of the last 10 matchups between the two teams have gone Miami’s way. The Hurricanes will look to Palmquist for another hot start, as the team in the ACC with the second-lowest team batting average and third-fewest hits.