The Miami Hurricanes rode a nine-game win-streak into Charlottesville and finally cracked the Top 10, but took a minor step back after dropping two to the slumping Virginia Cavaliers this past weekend.
The Hoos—who have reached the College World Series three times in the past six seasons and were last year’s runner-up—found a way to rise to the occasion with the Canes in town, stepping up in two close games, before dropping Sunday’s finale.
Miami rolled in motivated and for the better part of Friday’s opener, it was a dogfight.
Thomas Woodrey took the mound for the Canes and lasted 6.2 innings, striking out two, giving up nine hits and four runs before being relieved by Cooper Hammond and Michael Mediavilla after the damage had been done.
Miami bats were relatively cold early, with the Canes unable to get in the board until the top of the fifth, picking up a run when trailing, 2-0 as Carl Chester delivered an RBI ground out after back-to-back singles from Willie Abreu and Brandon Lopez, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Christopher Barr. The Canes had a chance to tie things up, but Lopez was thrown out at home on the heels of a single by Ricky Eusebio.
Virginia immediately answered back in the bottom of the fifth, by way of a two-RBI double from Robbie Coman, extending the lead to 4-1, before the Hurricanes showed some life in the top of the seventh.
Barr roped an RBI triple in the right-center gap, bringing home Lopez and a pinch-hit single from Johnny Ruiz scored another before George Iskenderian fouled out down the first base line, stranding two runners, but bringing Miami to within out.
Virginia picked up another in the bottom of the eighth and the Canes scored one in the top of the ninth, but could get no closer.
Barr doubled and pinch-hitter Jacob Heyward reached on an infield error, setting the stage for a sacrifice bunt from Eusebio, moving both runners into scoring position, but catcher Garrett Kennedy grounded out, ending the rally and the ballgame, sending the Canes to a frustrating, 5-4 loss.
Come Saturday, Andrew Suarez took the mound, lasted 5.2 innings, struck out five, gave up five hits and one lone run. Hammond and Mediavilla again came on in relief and held things together, all three holding the Cavaliers to a title of seven hits and one run before things busted wide open in the bottom of the eighth.
Miami was down 0-1 after four—averting disaster in the third inning after Virginia loaded the bases with no outs, but only managed one run. Suarez kept the Canes in check, while the defense turned a 6-4-3 double play and forced a pop-out to get out of the frame.
In the top of the fifth, an RBI groundout from Chester put Miami on the board after Lopez reached base on an error and was put in scoring position by way of a sacrifice bunt by Barr.
An inning later, Kennedy drew a walk, Iskenderian laid down a bunt single and Abreu smacked a two-out RBI single to right after Zack Collins went downs swinging and David Thompson field out to center.
Chester, who sparked the offense in the top of the fifth, saved the Canes with his defense in the bottom of the sixth, by way of a diving catch on the left field line, ending the inning, stranding two Cavalier runners an maintaining UM’s, 2-1 lead.
The Canes lead lasted until the bottom of the eighth when the Cavaliers brew things wide open with a four-run outpouring. Virginia again loaded the bases with no outs and this time made Miami pay.
Bryan Garcia tagged Jack Gerstenmaier with a pitch, walking in a run and tying the game 2-2 before Adam Haseley smacked a two-RBI single up the middle. Virginia tacked on one more by way of an RBI groundout and the damage was done with Miami trailing by three with three outs remaining.
After two heartbreakers, the Canes rolled in motivated for Sunday’s earlier showdown—moved to 10:00 a.m. due to inclement weather—and avoided the sweep, walking away with an, 8-6 victory.
Enrique Sosa lasted 4.2 innings for Miami, giving up nine hits and five runs, while only striking out two. Sam Abrams, Mediavilla, Hammond and Garcia went on to close it out, allowing one hit combined and striking out five.
The Canes jumped out with a three-run first inning and picked up one apiece in the second and third, but the Cavaliers exploded with a five-run second and things were tied in Charlottesville after three.
Eusebio singled to open the game, Kennedy reached base by way of an error and Iskenderian walked, loading the bases for Collins, who also drew a walk, bringing home Eusebio.
From there, Thompson knocked a two-RBI single to right field and the Canes led, 3-0 after the next three batters were retired and Miami stranded three runners.
In the second, Iskenderian smacked an RBI triple into right-center gap, extending the lead to, 4-0 before the Cavaliers jumped ahead, 5-4 after two. The Canes re-tied the game in the third on a two-out RBI single for Barr, bringing home Thompson, who walked to opening the inning.
Miami went on to take the lead in the fourth and never looked back, by way of a bases-clearing double from Abreu—who ended the day with four hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games. Virginia tacked one one final run in the bottom of the seventies, but the Canes pitching held the Cavaliers in check after the second inning explosion.
Miami is now 30-11 after the three-game series and 15-6 in the ACC and while back-to-back losses cooled off the recent win-streak, it could serve as a wake-up call as 14 games remain.
The Canes host Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night—another mid-week showdown with a crosstown rival trying to prove a point—before welcoming Florida State for what is always a spirited three-game home stand.
The slip-up at Charlottesville dropped Miami from No. 9 to No. 13 in the most-recent College Top 25 poll—one slot behind the twelfth-ranked Seminoles, giving the Canes a bit of an underdog mentality as their rivals from Tallahassee travel south.
Florida State—now 30-12 after sweeping Pittsburgh at home—had previously lost five of its past seven, getting swept by Notre Dame in South Bend, dropping a home game to Florida Gulf Coast and losing the final game of a road series at North Carolina State.
The Noles take on Stetson at home mid-week before rolling into Coral Gables to face a Canes’ squad that is almost its mirror image at this point of the season; two proud Sunshine State squads looking to get hot before the conference tourney and with dreams of getting back to Omaha.
Miami and Florida Atlantic go at it 6:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, with back-to-back 7:00 p.m. games at Mark Light Field for the Canes and Noles this Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s finale will take place at 1:00 p.m. ET.