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May 25, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - Miami opened its 2012 ACC Championship Wednesday with a devastating walk-off loss to NC State. Two wins later, the Hurricanes (36-20) are still alive and kicking, albeit in need of some help.
Miami's hard-fought 6-3 win over Wake Forest Friday night assures that the Hurricanes will play in Sunday's title game if North Carolina defeats the Wolfpack Saturday night. Miami's win over the Tar Heels on Friday gives the Hurricanes the tiebreaker over UNC. NC State will advance to Sunday's final with a win over North Carolina.
Winning pitcher Eric Whaley (4-4) went eight solid innings for the Hurricanes, who broke open a close game with a three-run seventh inning.
Whaley allowed two runs, one earned, in throwing a season-high 129 pitches. He struck out six without allowing a walk and gave up seven hits.
Miami coach Jim Morris said he was ready to pull Whaley after seven innings but Whaley talked him out of it. "I felt like my stuff was getting better throughout the game, so I just wanted to stay in the game," Whaley said. "I was spotting my fastball pretty good and my slider was pretty good."
The teams traded runs in the second. In the top half of the inning, Miami left fielder Rony Rodriguez's third home run of the season sailed over the left field fence.
Wake got the equalizer in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff batter Charlie Morgan reached first on a throwing error by shortstop Stephen Perez and was bunted to second. Brett Armour drove him in with a two-out single.
Chantz Mack led off the fourth with a triple, as Wake left fielder Kevin Jordan slipped on the sinking liner. Brian Holmes (7-3) struck out the next two batters, but Peter O'Brien singled home Mack.
This was O'Brien's first RBI since April 14. He broke his left wrist when hit by a pitch the following day and didn't return until this week. A regular catcher, O'Brien has started the last two games at first base.
Carlos Lopez tied the game for the Deacons at 2-2 in the fourth with his 10th home run.
Miami regained the lead for good in the sixth. Dale Carey walked and was forced at second. Brad Fieger doubled off the left-field wall, scoring Mack. An error and a hit batter loaded the bases, but Holmes fanned Jarred Mederos to keep Wake in striking distance.
Miami broke it open in the seventh, however, knocking out Holmes in the process.
Garrett Kennedy led off with a single and Perez bunted him to second. Justin Van Grouw relieved Holmes and gave up a bad-hop single to Carey, a long double to Mack, a single to Fieger and a sacrifice fly to Rodriguez, putting Miami up 6-2.
Nate Jones replaced Van Grouw for the eighth. Wake center fielder Evan Stephens made a spectacular diving catch of a Garrett Kennedy liner, saving a run and duplicated the feat on a sinking liner off the bat of Carey to end the inning.
A.J. Salcines started the ninth on the mound for Miami, but struggled with one out, as a single, a walk and a wild pitch set up Brett Armour's RBI single, which made it 6-3.
Salcines struck out Stephens for the second out. Miami went to its bullpen again, this time for Eric Nedeljkovic, who retired Pat Blair on a groundout to end the game.
Mack, who had three hits and scored three runs, calls waiting for tomorrow night "very weird, very nerve-wracking. I expect to lose my voice rooting for Carolina."
Wake Forest has completed pool play and has been eliminated from the tournament.