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Hurricanes bounce back to win their ACC Championship finale
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – Taking the field roughly 15 hours after a disappointing loss that eliminated them from the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship, second-seeded Miami salvaged a bit of a consolation prize Saturday afternoon.
Christopher Barr led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a game-tying solo home run, and Brandon Lopez’s bases-loaded single five batters later lifted the Hurricanes past third-seeded Notre Dame by a 6-5 score as both teams closed out play in this year’s tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The win should further secure a national seed for the Hurricanes (44-14) in the NCAA Tournament, in spite of Friday night’s 12-inning loss to NC State in the ACC Championship. Miami has won 14 of its last 15 games and was ranked No. 1 in the latest RPI rankings released Saturday.
Notre Dame (36-20), which finished the regular season strong and posted a win over Virginia during the ACC Championship, remains hopeful of an NCAA Tournament berth when the bracket is unveiled Monday afternoon.
The Irish appeared on the verge of a taking another huge step in that direction on Saturday, rallying from one-run deficit to grab a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth on Ryan Bull’s RBI game-tying RBI double and Robert Youngdahl’s go-ahead single. But Notre Dame’s bullpen couldn’t keep the Hurricanes down.
Zack Collins homered and drove in three runs for Miami. Perhaps more importantly, he drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth and was on third base when Lopez lined his game-winning hit over Notre Dame’s drawn-in outfield to end it.
Cooper Hammond (5-1), the sixth Miami pitcher who retired the one Irish batter he faced in the top of the ninth, picked up the win. Brad Bass (3-1), the fourth of five Notre Dame pitchers to see action on Saturday, took the loss.
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning, scoring runs on a throwing error by Miami third baseman David Thompson and Jake Shepski’s sacrifice fly. The Hurricanes tied it in the bottom of the third, as walks to Jason Heyward and a single by Ricky Eusebio set the table, and Barr and Collins delivered sacrifice flies.
The Irish went back up, 3-2, in the top the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Youngdahl. The lead was short-lived, as Collins tied it up in the bottom of inning with a one-out home run off reliever Evy Ruibal. The homer was the Miami sophomore’s 15th of the season.
Collins delivered again in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out RBI single to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the afternoon at 4-3.
That lead disappeared in the top of the ninth, but Barr made sure Miami didn’t stay down for long when he lined a 2-2 pitch from Bass into the right field seats for his first home run of the season to tie the score at 5-all.
Collins then walked with one out, and Thompson was hit by a pitch. Garrett Kennedy followed with a single to right field, with Collins stopping at third to load the bases and set the stage for Lopez’s game-winner.