No. 5 Miami trounces Pittsburgh to win sixth ACC series

Freshman starting pitcher Karson Ligon pitches in No. 5 Miami's 17-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field.
Freshman starting pitcher Karson Ligon pitches in No. 5 Miami's 17-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

Just after first pitch, Mark Light Field grew quiet with Miami baseball in its first deficit all weekend.

But nobody panicked inside Miami’s dugout.

Scoring 16 straight runs, the “Cardiac Canes” showed no struggles in climbing ahead, defeating Pittsburgh 17-2 on Saturday.

“It was a great overall performance,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “We cranked out a lot of hits. We got a crooked number there, scoring 13 runs in three innings, and we got a great start from Karson Ligon.”

Pittsburgh designated hitter Ron Washington Jr., who homered versus Miami last year, opened the Panthers’ scoring attack with a solo shot in the first.

No. 5 Miami answered right back with a four-run burst, nonetheless.

With two runners in scoring position on one-out plays, junior catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. reached base on a fielding error by second baseman Tommy Tavarez, scoring each.

Then, sophomore outfielder Jacob Burke hit a two-run home run to left-center field, pushing Miami (31-8, 16-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) ahead 4-1 and awakening a crowd of over 3,280 fans.

From there, everything became worse for Pittsburgh pitching, as Miami exhibited its hitting display.

Back-to-back one-run hits from freshman designated hitter Zach Levenson and freshman second baseman Henry Wallen capped off a six-run frame in the fourth, forcing Pittsburgh head coach Mike Bell to signal for additional relief.

“Every day, we come in and we stick together as a team,” Levenson said. “It doesn’t matter how we win, we just find a way. Somedays we’re going to score 17 runs, somedays we’re going to score two runs. Either way, we stick together and find a way to win.”

Romero Jr. drove home the only Miami run in the fifth on a two-out single. Sophomore CJ Kayfus, added continued RBI hitting momentum from a walk-off single in Friday’s series opener.

Freshman starter Karson Ligon responded after surrendering the solo home run, keeping Pittsburgh (21-16, 9-10 ACC)scoreless on two hits after the first. The right-hander struck out eight batters, tying a career-high.

Miami’s scoring avalanche sustained into the eighth. Kayfus’ two-run single, sophomore Jacob Burke’s RBI double and a wild pitch granted the Canes three more runs in the seventh. Freshman Renzo Gonzalez hit his first home run as a Hurricane in the eighth.

Pittsburgh’s Cameron Barto pinch hit for Tavarez in the ninth, hitting a one-run double for the Panthers’ only run scored since the first.

Pittsburgh starter Logan Evans (3-5) was tacked with the loss, lasting three innings with four earned runs allowed. Five different relieved appeared for the Panthers, though none held the Hurricanes’ lineup scoreless, instead combining for 10 runs and seven walks.

Ligon (5-2) garnered the win and now holds 54 total strikeouts this season, joining the ACC’s top 10 leaders in strikeouts.

With the victory, Miami extended its winning streak to four and has won 18 of its last 20 contests. Pittsburgh’s ACC series win streak ends at four, having entered Coral Gables with two of three games won over then-No. 5 Virginia.

The Hurricanes will look for their fourth conference series sweep when they return to the diamond Sunday to close out a five-game home stand. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.