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Thompson, Kennedy cap clutch eighth-inning comeback
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – Riding a 12-game winning streak heading into the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship, second-seeded Miami wasn’t about to go down quietly.
The Hurricanes spoke loudly on Wednesday afternoon, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to wipe out a three-run deficit and down seventh-seeded Virginia, 9-5, in the Pool B opener at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
David Thompson – the national leader in RBIs – gave the Hurricanes a 6-5 lead with a one-out, two-run single, and Garrett Kennedy followed with a three-run homer to cap the comeback.
Bryan Garcia (5-2), the fourth Miami pitcher to see action, picked up the win. Reliever Alec Bettinger (4-4) took the loss for Virginia.
Miami (43-13, 1-0 in Pool B play) made the most of its opportunities, scoring nine runs on seven hits. Thompson’s two-run single gave him an even 80 RBIs for the season. Kennedy’s home run into the right field bleachers was his seventh of the year.
Virginia (34-20, 0-1) saw a quality start by Connor Jones go for naught. The sophomore right-hander allowed just four hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out seven in 7.1 innings. He departed in the eighth leading 5-2 with one out and two on, but the bullpen couldn’t hold on.
Miami opened the scoring with an unearned run in the bottom of the first. Zack Collins’ two-out base hit scored George Iskenderian, who had singled and moved into scoring position on Jones’ throwing error.
Another Virginia error set up the Hurricanes’ second run in the fifth inning. Willie Abreu led off with a walk and advanced to third on an misplay by Cavaliers shortstop Daniel Pinero. He scored from there on Ricky Eusebio’s fly ball to deep center.
Kenny Towns put Virginia up 3-2 in the top of the sixth with his fifth home run of the season, a three-run blast to left-center off Miami starter Thomas Woodrey that followed an error by Iskendarian at second base and a single by Pinero.
The Cavaliers missed a chance for more in the sixth when Miami Eusebio made a highlight-reel diving stab of Joe McCarthy’s sinking liner to center for the third out of the inning, robbing McCarthy of an RBI and prompting an instant-replay review – which confirmed Eusebio had made the catch.
McCarthy left no room for doubt in the top of the seventh, when he ripped a 2-2, two-out pitch from reliever Michael Mediavilla down the right field line for a bases-loaded double that scored two and pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 5-2.
But the Hurricanes, who are ranked sixth nationally and inched up the No. 1 spot unofficially in the NCAA RPI rankings late Wednesday afternoon, had the final say.
Both teams have their Championship open date on Thursday. Virginia resumes play on Friday at 11 a.m. against third-seeded Notre Dame, while Miami next sees action against sixth-seeded NC State in the 7 o’clock game on Friday night.