Georgia Tech took down Miami, 8-5, powered by a four-run first inning that had UM playing catch-up for the rest of the afternoon. Even more impressive, the fact that the Yellow Jackets were the number eight seed, earning their tourney in on the final day of the regular season.
En route to the championship game, they took down Florida State, Virginia and Clemson, soundly beating all three before taking out Miami for the title.
Javi Salas, solid all season, got the start for UM and was tattooed early and only last 1.1 innings. Salas gave up six hits and was charged with five runs on forty-one pitches. Vince Kossak replaced Salas, also going 1.1 before yielding to Christian Diaz, who went 2.1 and pitched the Canes out of a fifth inning jam, where the Jackets left three on base.
Miami kept Georgia Tech off the board in the middle innings, giving the Canes time to chip away at a 6-1 deficit entering the bottom of the third.
UM got one in the first, the action starting with a Dale Carey single. After stealing second, a Chantz Mack ground-out put Carey on third and a Brad Fieger single brought him home. After Rony Rodriguez reached on a fielding error, Peter O’Brien flied out to center, leaving two stranded.
Miami got two back in the bottom of the third, starting with Stephen Perez reaching on fielding error. Carey then singled, moving Perez to second and both picked up a base after a wild pitch, putting runners at second and third and another errant throw brought Perez home and moved Carey to third. Fieger then filed out, scoring Carey and leaving Miami down, 6-3.
The Canes got to within one after back-to-back one-run innings. Small ball brought Perez home in the bottom of the fifth after he drew a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a Carey ground out and came home after Mack reached on a fielding error.
Again, O’Brien had a chance to make something happen, but filed out and stranded two to end the inning. O’Brien finished 0-for-4 on the day and stranded five.
Adam Sargent took the mound to start the sixth, ending the inning after four batters. Michael Broad was first up for Miami and sent the 1-1 pitch over the left field wall, bringing the Canes to within one, though Garrett Kennedy, Jarred Mederos and Perez went down 1-2-3 to end the inning.
The 7-8-9 hitters – Broad, Kennedy and Mederos – killed Miami today, going 1-for-10 on the afternoon, with Broad’s solo shot being the lone hit.
Sargent was pulled in the seventh after giving up a single and issuing a walk, with AJ Salcines taking over. After striking out the first batter he faced, Salcines hit the next batter, loaded the bases and gave up a two-run, two-out single to center, pushing GT’s lead to, 8-5.
Eric Nedeljkovic closed it out for the Canes on the mound, pitching two innings, surrendering three hits and striking out one, but offensively, Miami would never threaten again.
Three up, three down in the bottom of the seventh, eighth and ninth, made for a pathetic finish before watching Georgia Tech celebrate an ACC Championship that was more than within reach.
The lone good news of the day; Miami was chosen as one of sixteen teams to host a regional, with the tournament starting next Friday night. The entire 64-team field will be announced Monday afternoon, as will the top eight national seeds .
Miami earned the shot at hosting a regional due to a deep run in this year’s ACC Tournament – the NCAA obviously looking favorable on the conference as five ACC teams were chosen as regional sites.
Besides Miami, the other fifteen hosts are Florida, Florida State, LSU, North Carolina, MC State, Virginia, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Oregon, Rice, Purdue, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona and Baylor.
This marks the twenty-fourth time in school history that the University of Miami has been selected to how one of sixteen regional sites for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships and this will mark UM’s NCAA-record fortieth consecutive regional appearance overall.