No. 11 Miami rises in record books, hits 3 more HRs to beat No. 16 Duke, end regular season
After winning its Friday-night game against Duke with an 11th-inning walk-off home run, the University of Miami altered its formula Saturday afternoon at Mark Light Field — somewhat.
The long-ball Hurricanes rearranged the script by keeping it to nine innings but still belting three homers, including a grand slam, in a 10-1 Miami victory that ended the regular season with UM’s sixth consecutive weekend series victory.
“Home runs seem to be the talk of the town,’’ said UM coach Gino DiMare, who was equally pleased with his pitchers. “Really proud of our guys.”
The Canes (37-18, 18-12 Atlantic Coast Conference), which further strengthened their case to host an NCAA regional, now head to the ACC Baseball Championship, which begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday, May 28, in Durham, North Carolina. UM will be the No. 4 seed with No. 5 seed Duke (35-19, 16-13) and No. 9 North Carolina State in “Pool D.’’ Miami will learn on Sunday when it opens the tournament, and whether it will be against Duke or North Carolina State.
UM increased its home run total to 106 for the season, tied with the 2008 and 2010 teams for the second most in program history. Zach Levenson’s grand slam in the third inning and CJ Kayfus’ solo shot in the fourth helped surpass the 1999 national championship UM team that hit 104.
“This was a good series win for us,’’ Levenson said. “It will put great momentum going into the next couple days when we head out to Durham.”
The Canes’ third home run Saturday was a seventh-inning, 2-run blast by freshman Blake Cyr, who has a team-high 16, tied for fourth most by a UM freshman.
“Actually, for the past two days I didn’t feel as good,’’ said Cyr, who also hit a home run Friday and said he talked to hitting coach Norberto Lopez on Saturday morning about his approach. “My swing just didn’t feel good. This morning at BP we worked on it. I found out it was one little click and came out to the game and first pitch it was ‘Yeah, I’m ready to go.’’’
The grand slam was Levenson’s 12th homer this season and UM’s fourth grand slam since May 5 after going without one previously this season. Kayfus’ also was his 12th this season. The team record is 139, set in 1998. The home run count will continue through the postseason.
UM’s first seven runs were scored off the homers. Finally, in the eighth, catcher Carlos Perez’s double down the left-field line drove home Jacoby Long and Lorenzo Carrier to make it 9-1. Perez, by the way, is the Cane who hit the walk-off homer Friday.
Kayfus then followed with a double that scored Perez for his career-high-tying fourth hit of the day.
“Biggest comeback of the year,’’ Levenson said of how Friday night’s walk-off win inspired the team. “It was a good feeling to get that last night for team morale. To carry that on today was really important for us.’’
Regarding Friday night’s extra-innings win, in which the Canes rebounded from a five-run deficit, UM now has four walk-off wins, two off home runs.
“Really proud of our guys,’’ DiMare said. “They did a great job fighting back. It looked like maybe halfway through the game yesterday those guys had it pretty good and we flipped it on them. We flipped it really good the took the total momentum from them.’’
Miami starter Ronaldo Gallo (2-3) didn’t allow a hit in three innings for the win.
Duke reliever Edward Hart (1-1) got the loss.
▪ A lightning delay at 1:23 p.m. heading into the second inning delayed the game for an hour and seven minutes.
The Hurricanes will leave Monday to fly to the ACC tournament.
The ACC tournament has a pool format, encompassing four three-team pods. Each team plays a minimum of two games, starting with the two other teams in its pod. There are three tournament games a day during pool play Tuesday through Friday. The winner of each pod advances to the semifinal on Saturday, May 27. The winners of each semifinal advance to the championship game May 28.
The annual UM player awards, voted on by players, coaches and staff (except for Arnold Novins Award that goes to the fans’ favorite player) were announced Saturday.
Bob Werner Award (Player who most exemplifies the qualities of a winner and good teammate): pitcher Alejandro Torres.
Ron Fraser Award (top pitcher): closer Andrew Walters.
Rookie of the Year: Blake Cyr.
Arnold Novins Award (fan favorite): Dominic Pitelli.
Home Run Champion: Cyr (15).
MVP: Yohandy Morales.
▪ Outfielder Dario Gomez and pitchers Carlos Lequerica, Alejandro Torres and Andrew Walters were honored on senior day in a pregame ceremony. Walters and Torres have each earned their UM degrees.