When Miami head coach Gino DiMare called upon junior closer Andrew Walters, it was for all the marbles. The 6-foot-4 right hander needed to get six outs without allowing a run, no easy feat considering his 13th-ranked opponent, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Aided by a perfectly timed RBI bunt by outfielder Dario Gomez in the ninth inning, Walters shut down the Tar Heels and helped Miami escape with a 5-4 win at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill on Thursday night.
Walters may have closed the game, but sophomore Gage Ziehl started for the ‘Canes and set the table. The New York native pitched a solid five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits in 102 pitches. Ziehl also struck out five hitters and walked two.
Helping along the way, Miami’s offense jumped out to the first lead of the game to put pressure on the Diamond Heels to respond. 6-foot-5 outfielder Lorenzo Carrier hit a massive home run to left field to give the Hurricanes (21-12, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)) a 1-0 advantage in the third inning. Then, Blake “Hollywood” Cyr followed his teammates lead, doubling to right center field to score Gomez.
The offenses battled back and forth in the middle innings. The Tar Heels (23-11, 8-6 ACC) scored on a double by junior Jackson Van De Brake and a big three run homer by first baseman Hunter Stokely in the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Florida Gulf Coast transfer Ian Farrow fought off a two-strike count and doubled down the left field line to score shortstop Dominic Pitelli.
After four innings, the Tar Heels owned a 4-3 lead.
North Carolina head coach Scott Forbes pulled starter Max Carlson after five innings. The junior righty allowed three runs, eight hits and earned six strikeouts in 75 pitches. He was relieved by right-handers Matthew Matthijs and Matt Poston and former Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Kevin Eaise.
Later, Cyr’s second RBI of the day scored himself as he hit a 374-foot home run in the sixth inning to tie the score at 4-4.
After Gomez’s bunt single scored outfielder Jacoby Long and Walters picked up his fourth save of the season in the ninth, Miami won its first ACC road game of the year.
Walters picked up his third victory (3-0) while Eaise (2-2) was tagged with the loss for allowing the winning run in the ninth.
Miami will face North Carolina twice more this weekend. The first pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at Boshamer Stadium.