Hurricanes Halt Duke’s ACC Championship Bid

Hurricanes Halt Duke’s ACC Championship Bid

Saturday May 24, 2014

Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com


Loss eliminates Championship final appearance for Duke; Georgia Tech to face Maryland in Sunday's title game.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – It took three full games and three extra innings, but top-seeded Miami made sure it left the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship with a win.
And in the process, the Hurricanes prevented fourth-seeded Duke from making history.

Jacob Heyward led off the 12th inning with a double and scored the tie-breaking run from third base on a wild pitch, and Zack Collins followed with a solo homer for what proved to be a mammoth insurance run as Miami fended off the Blue Devils, 6-5, in Saturday’s tournament game at NewBridge Bank Park.

 

The loss prevented Duke (33-25) from reaching the ACC Baseball Championship final for the first time since the event began in 1973. Ninth-seeded Georgia Tech advanced from Pool A and will face sixth-seeded Maryland in Sunday’s title game (1:04 p.m.; ESPN2).

Miami (41-17) snapped a two-game losing streak and remains hopeful that its full season’s body of work will pack enough punch for a national seed when NCAA Championship pairings are announced on Monday.

“It’s a big win, tough one,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “I tell you what, this conference is tough.  For the people that were in here the first day, I said at the press conference that anybody can win in this tournament, 1 through 10.  If I’m not wrong, it looks like we're going to have a 9 6 seed playing for the Championship.

“It's a great league, great league.  A lot of good pitching, a lot of good defense, a lot of guys that battle.  There used to be two echelons – two groups in this thing from the top to the bottom, and that's not the way anymore.” 

The Blue Devils didn’t go quietly in their quest for their first ACC baseball title since 1961. Cris Perez – a freshman batting .167 with six RBIs in 36 at-bats prior to Saturday – tied the score at 4-4 with a one-out, two-run homer off Miami closer and former high school teammate Bryan Garcia in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

Then, after Miami regained a 6-4 edge with its two runs in the top of the 12th, Duke used a walk and two base hits – the second an RBI single by Mike Rosenfeld to close within 6-5 and had the tying run on third before Javi Salas struck out Matt Berezo to earn his first save of the season.

“I'm certainly proud of our team, proud of our fight,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said. “I’m not disappointed in them, I’m disappointed for them.  These guys fought like crazy … doing it all year and did it again today.  We just came up a run short.”

Garcia (6-4) wound up working three full innings on the mound and took the win. Andrew Istler (8-8), who came on in the 12th as the fourth Duke pitcher, took the loss.

The Hurricanes, who had scored a total of nine runs in their previous four games, wasted little time generating a bit of offense on Saturday. Dale Carey led off with a single, and David Thompson reached on a walk with two outs. Will Abreu then doubled Carey home, and Thompson scored on a wild pitch for a quick 2-0 Miami lead.

Duke loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second but managed just one run on a two-out walk to Mark Lumpa. Miami starter Bryan Radziewski then retired Andy Perez on a grounder to first to end the inning.

The Hurricanes went up 3-1 in the fifth as Heyward led off with an infield single, moved up on Carey’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Tyler Palmer’s base hit. Heyward slid in safely at home just ahead of Blue Devil rightfielder Ryan Dietrich’s strong throw.

Duke got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Lumpa walked and eventually scored from second on Chris Marconcini’s two-out single.

After the sixth and seventh inning saw a runner from each team thrown out at the plate, Miami finally pushed another home in top of the eighth to go ahead 4-2. Collins opened the inning with a base hit off reliever Nick Hendrix and eventually scored on Brandon Lopez’s sacrifice fly.

Cris Perez’s unlikely homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Blue Devils new life, but Miami ultimately owned the final answer in the 12th.

Morris believes the Blue Devils – and a number of other ACC teams – should joining the Hurricanes in the NCAA postseason field.

“We’ve got to get eight, maybe nine, 10 teams in the tournament,” Morris said. “We have to have nine from the ACC, and I think you’ve got to consider 10 teams. I look toward to seeing how the ACC does when we get into the NCAA Tournament.”