After a quiet Tuesday night, the Hurricanes responded in a loud way, beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6-4 Thursday, while retaining the top spot in the ACC Coastal Division.
Freshman left fielder Gaby Gutierrez stepped up for a game-winning three-run home run in the fourth inning with Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic-leading Notre Dame visiting Mark Light Field,
“He threw me a hanging curveball so I, again, put a barrel on it,” Gutierrez said.
The Hurricanes and Irish were locked in a pitching duel early. Miami starter Carson Palmquist hadn’t allowed a hit in his first time through the lineup. Notre Dame starter John Michael Bertrand, then the ACC leader in ERA, did the same.
The pace changed when Notre Dame’s leadoff hitter Ryan Cole hit his first home run of the game over the left field wall to put the Irish on top 1-0 in the fourth inning.
“I fell behind in the count, and that’s what happens when you fall behind in the count. Nothing really good happens from there,” Palmquist said.
Miami (38-15, 19-9 ACC) got a big response in the bottom half of the inning, however. Home run leader Yohandy Morales, broke up Bertrand’s no-hitter, hitting his 13th homer of the season to tie the game at one.
“I was just trying to let the ball travel,” Morales said. “I saw a ball up and away and I just went with the pitch.”
In the fifth, Miami began to crack Bertrand. After a walk to Ariel Garcia, a double by shortstop Dominic Pitelli gave way to Gaby Gutierrez. With one swing, Gutierrez gave the Hurricanes the lead as he hit his second home run of the season to make it 4-1.
“I was obviously trying to find something to drive up in the air, and he hung a changeup high, and I put a barrel on it,” Gutierrez said.
For Notre Dame (32-12, 15-10 ACC), Bertrand exited the game in the seventh, finishing with 6 1/3 innings pitched, giving up four runs on four hits as he struck out six batters.
Bertrand’s four runs allowed were the second most of the season in a single start, only surrendering more in at home versus Boston College, in which he gave up six.
Palmquist exited after five full innings, allowing the home run to Cole but no other hits and walking three batters while collecting eight strikeouts.
“Every pitcher across our staff, if we make our pitches, no one can beat us,” Palmquist said.
In the seventh inning, the once-slumping Gutierrez again stepped into the box and delivered. Despite an 0-for-15 hitting streak prior to Thursday, Gutierrez smacked another home run to score himself and Pitelli who walked with two outs in the inning.
Entering the ninth the Canes led 6-1, but the Irish wouldn’t go out quietly. A single from third baseman Zack Brannigan and a walk from centerfielder Spencer Myers gave Notre Dame two base runners with two outs.
Matching Gutierrez, Cole hit his second home run of the game to left field, slicing the Irish’s deficit to 6-4. For Hurricanes closer Andrew Walters, it was only the second time he allowed a run in his 21 appearances.
Walters, named a Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist as the only reliever of 39 total pitchers, surrendered three earned runs. The former Eastern Florida State transfer allowed multiple earned runs for the first time all season.
Miami ended a three-game losing streak, utilizing three relievers. Sophomore right-hander Alex McFarlane enjoyed a five-strikeout performance in two innings of relief.
“Even though he’s a 96, 97, 98 guy, it’s the breaking ball that’s been the great equalizer,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said when asked about McFarlane’s strikeouts. “That’s the pitch that stands out as the one that he’s going to get a lot of swing and misses on.”
Palmquist (9-3) earned a third consecutive win and Bertrand (7-2) was tacked with the loss.
“Very happy with this first win of the series. Now, we turn the page and got to get ready to play tomorrow,” DiMare said.
With the win, the Hurricanes will try to keep their one game advantage over the Virginia Tech Hokies in Game 2 Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.