Takeaways from Miami’s ACC series win against Pittsburgh

Sophomore infielder Dominic Pitelli watches the pitcher from first base in the bottom of the second inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022.
Sophomore infielder Dominic Pitelli watches the pitcher from first base in the bottom of the second inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Their first home game may have been lost since the start of their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, but the No. 5 Miami Hurricanes still won another ACC series.

A 2-1 win on Friday, won in extra innings, a 17-2 win Saturday, and a 9-4 loss in the series finale Sunday kept Miami (31-9, 16-5 ACC) atop of the ACC Coastal by three games.

As Miami looks past its sixth ACC series win of the season, here are some of the takeaways from the series…

1. Miami can beat almost any team in any situation

Junior catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. shakes Head coach Gino DiMare’s hand on his way to home plate after being batted in by freshman outfielder Zach Levenson’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022.
Junior catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. shakes Head coach Gino DiMare’s hand on his way to home plate after being batted in by freshman outfielder Zach Levenson’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

If there was a definition for opposite performances offensively in the game of baseball, the Friday and Saturday performances might have proved to be just that. On Friday, the Hurricanes were out-hit 11-7 while on Saturday, Miami out-hit Pittsburgh 15-5. The Canes may dominate at the plate sometimes, but often turn to the strength of their bullpen at other times, particularly in late innings, to churn out wins.

“Every day, we come in and we stick together as a team,” freshman designated hitter Zach 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.”

2. Freshman Zach Levenson shines again

Freshman outfielder Zach Levenson hits a ball in the bottom of the fifth inning of Miami's game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022.
Freshman outfielder Zach Levenson hits a ball in the bottom of the fifth inning of Miami's game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

In all three games of the series, Levenson put on impressive career-best hitting displays, going 6-of-8 and batting in six runs. Levenson’s season consists of an average of .315 and an on-base percentage of a whopping .425.

“For me, I was seeing the ball really well, staying balanced in my swing,” Levenson said after a 3-for-3 performance Saturday. “I’ve been working on my hands, and it all came together today.”

After a season playing at junior college Seminole State College of Florida, Levenson transferred to UM with hopes of finding a strong role in the ACC-contending lineup. His average of .312 and four home runs brings recognition for his contributions to the team in his first season, involving a strong presence in the lower third of the Canes’ lineup.

3. Friday and Saturday starters bring endurance and resilience

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

Solidified in their roles of starting pitcher one and two in each series, sophomore Carson Palmquist and freshman Karson Ligon once again had great performances in each of the wins.

Palmquist had 11 strikeouts in five innings in his latest start in the opener, while Ligon posted eight strikeouts and allowed just a solo home run in eight innings the following night. Ligon’s eight strikeout tied a career best and Palmquist’s 11 remained one short of the 12 he collected at Duke in early April.

“Their pitchers did a good job, but our guys out-pitched them,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said following Friday night’s victory. “We just made the pitches when we really needed to make them.”

Palmquist has the second most strikeouts in the entire Atlantic Coast Conference, also striking out 11 batters at Clemson prior to Miami’s 14-game win streak.

4. A strong finish to the regular season is possible, but difficult battles lie ahead

Sophomore CJ Kayfus prepares to hit in the bottom of the first inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022.
Sophomore CJ Kayfus prepares to hit in the bottom of the first inning of Miami’s game versus the University of Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field on April 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

The Hurricanes, now ranked third nationally as they enter the final contest of a five-game home stand Tuesday, will face an inconsistent Georgia Tech team on the road this weekend. Their only loss to Pittsburgh was in part by the five-run second inning that Pitt was able to produce, serving as a reminder of the importance in closing out series.

Florida State, which fell to Clemson after sweeping Louisville, will mark Miami’s following ACC series once the Canes host North Dakota State for a non-conference weekend series.

With three conference series remaining in the regular season, the Hurricanes are gearing up for postseason baseball and expect to play well going into the ACC Tournament.

“You’re never happy when you lose, but we went 3-1 on the week,” DiMare said. “We gotta stay positive and move forward. We’re coming down the home stretch here and we have some really tough games. We have to finish strong.”

The Hurricanes will take the field against Stetson on Tuesday at Mark Light Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.