Andrew Walters and Carlos Perez of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate their win over the NC State Wolfpack in the ninth inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 25, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
DURHAM, N.C.- The Miami Hurricanes advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Baseball Championship with a 4-2 win against N.C. State at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Thursday.
The Hurricanes grabbed a 2-0 lead before N.C. State could retire a batter in the top of the first, as first baseman CJ Kayfus led off with a walk and left fielder Edgardo Villegas followed by launching the 1-2 offering from Wolfpack starter Sam Highfill into the seats in right center.
“Every day, we do the scouting report [on[ the pitcher, and I knew …when they went to Miami, they threw me a lot of off-speed,” Villegas said of the homer off Highfill. “So I knew that was gonna come, like, in a moment and I thank God I could have recognized that change.”
N.C. State evened the game in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Eli Serrano III.
Miami added another in the top of the fourth when Dominic Pitelli led off with a double and scored when the next batter, designated hitter Renzo Gonzalez, drove him in with an RBI single.
The Wolfpack’s best scoring opportunity came in the fifth, when Miami starter Gage Zieh walked Jacob Cozart to load the bases. Ziehl then struck out Chase Nixon, and Rafe Schlesinger came on in relief, getting Serrano to hit into a fielder’s choice on a 2-0 count to end the threat.
“I thought we faced two of the best pitchers in the country. Ziehl, we faced him early the year down in Miami, and he was incredible down there, and he was good again tonight,” said N.C. State head coach Elliott Avent. “Walters, I’ve seen him a lot, and they went to him a little early tonight. I think they understood how important this game was for them as far as being a national seed or whatever they’re trying to accomplish here.”
In the top of the eighth, Miami loaded the bases with no outs when Jacoby Long walked and Kayfus and Villegas followed with successive singles. Long later came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 4-2 Hurricanes.
Schlesinger, Carlos Lequerica, and Andrew Walters combined to throw 4.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and a walk. Walters earned the save, striking out three and needing just nine pitches to retire the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
NOTEBOOK – Only one semifinal berth remains to be determined tomorrow, when Boston College faces Clemson at 11 a.m.
Friday at the ACC Baseball Championship
11 a.m. – (7)Boston College vs. (3)Clemson (Pool C)
3 p.m. – (5)Duke vs. (4)Miami (Pool D)
7 p.m. – (8)Notre Dame vs. (1)Wake Forest (Pool A)
All games during pool play and both semifinals will be carried on the ACC Network. Each game will air live on Sirius XM ACC Radio channel 371.