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Miami Upsets Clemson, Avenges Last Year’s ACC Finals Loss

 Julian Guilarte  |    May 24th, 2024 9:30am EDT

Photo from University of Miami Athletics

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A recap of action from day three of the ACC Tournament …

GAME 1: Clemson vs Miami

Imagine an 11 seed in their conference knocking off the second seed and third-ranked team in Division I Baseball. One team fighting for everything against one of the best teams in college baseball. Miami did the unthinkable in their 8-7 win against Clemson. Miami was the winner of Pool B.

Miami right-handed pitcher Gage Ziehl delivered a quality start and really battled. His line was six innings, three earned runs, four strikeouts, six hits, and three walks. Gage gave up two runs in the second and one in the third.

Gage pitched around traffic all night, and Clemson put the lead-off hitter on base in eight out of nine innings. Clemson was hitting the ball hard, and Gage really had to lock in to escape these jams.

His stats against Clemson this season are 16.2 innings, 20 strikeouts, 1.66 ERA. Some call him the Tiger killer, especially on Miami Hurricanes’ Twitter. He topped out at 94 MPH with his fastball, which also features a slider and changeup.

Gage, the 85th-ranked prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Draft Rankings, His season stats are 85 innings, 85 strikeouts, and an ERA of 4.24. He told World Baseball Network how he worked through the Clemson traffic after the game.

“It was just about throwing more strikes and making them get themselves out,” Gage said.

Miami closer Myles Caba got his fifth save of the year in an eventful ninth. Caba threw 60 pitches in the 8-5 win against Louisville on May 21. He was still ready to pitch and talked to World Baseball Network about his outing.

“When it comes to playoff baseball, there’s no such thing as rest you have to empty the tank. I was ready to go anywhere from one to three innings,” Caba said. “The season is on the line; every day is a Playoff game.”

Miami avenged its 11-5 loss to Clemson in the finals of the ACC tournament last season. Miami can’t let up now since their Division I Baseball tournament berth is far from guaranteed. The Hurricanes must win their next two games to secure a birth fully. Miami went up 1-0 in the first, then gave up two runs to Clemson in the second.

Shortstop Antonio Jimenez hit a 3-run home run to cap a five-run inning and give Miami a 6-2 lead in the second. Clemson battled back fiercely, decreasing the deficit to 7-6 and 8-7. Miami pinch hitter Jake Kulikowsk hit a massive pinch-hit home run in the eighth to give Miami an insurance run.

Edgardo Villegas made a great play at the wall high in left field to rob center fielder Cam Cannarella of extra bases and win the game for Miami. If he didn’t make the catch the game would’ve been tied. Miami could have easily lost this game, but they hung tough and kept their season alive. Miami has been the biggest surprise of the tournament as an 11 seed in the ACC.

GAM 2: UNC vs Pitt

North Carolina hit three straight home runs and a fourth home off the scoreboard to start the game. They were up 4-0 after one and they never looked back in their 12-2 win against Pittsburgh. The most impressive part of this win was that they did it without outfielder Vance Honeycutt.

Honeycutt is their team’s best player and 23rd-ranked player in MLB Pipeline’s Draft Rankings. UNC’s lead-off hitter and center fielder Anthony Donofrio, started the game with a home run and went 3-for-5 with 5 RBI. He added another home run later in the game.

Right fielder Casey Cook also hit two home runs and had two RBI. First baseman Parks Harber hit a solo shot and was the third hitter to go deep to start the game. Three home runs in around 10 pitches off Pittsburgh starting pitcher Ryan Andrade.

Designated hitter Alberto Osuna hit the fourth home run in the first and hit the scoreboard to put North Carolina up 4-0. Casey Cook talked to the World Baseball Network after the game.

“My approach in the box was nothing special. Just be on the fastball. Pretty simple, just sticking to what’s been working well all season,” Cook said.

The left-handed Cooks’ season stats are 18 home runs, 76 RBI, seven stolen bases, and an OPS of 1.086 in 215 at-bats. North Carolina’s manager Scott Forbes said that Honeycutt will play on Friday, May 24 against Wake Forest.

North Carolina starting pitcher Jason Decaro pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and striking out six batters. He felt comfortable pitching with a big lead and executed perfectly. North Carolina will play Wake Forest on Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. EST. The winner will advance to the semifinals out of Pool A on Saturday, May 25.

GAME 3: Duke vs NC State

The game was 0-0 through four innings, and the pitching looked good on both sides. NC State right-handed starting pitcher Sam Highfill hit a wall in the fifth inning and gave up six runs.

Left fielder Chase Krewson hit a solo home run to open up the scoring for Duke. Second baseman Zac Morris hit a grand slam deep into the Charlotte night to make it 5-0 Duke in the fifth. Right fielder AJ Garcia tacked on another solo shot in the fifth and it was a 6-0 lead after five.

Center fielder Devin Obee hit a two-run home run off NC State reliever Jacob Dudan in the sixth to extend the lead to 8-0. The Duke pitching staff was on point and starter left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Healy led the way with five scoreless innings with four strikeouts. NC State got two runs in the ninth, and the final score was 8-2. Healy spoke to the media after the game.

“I’m feeling pretty good. At the end of the day, a win is a win. It certainly helps having the hitters’ bats active tonight. It was certainly part of the success,” Healy said. “Overall, I just feel good about the win, coming out on top, and moving forward to the next round.”

With the loss, NC State was eliminated from Pool C. Duke is the winner of Pool C, and they will play Miami, the winner of Pool B, on Saturday, May 25, in the semifinals at 5 p.m. EST.

Friday May 24 Schedule: Florida State vs Virginia 11 a.m EST. The winner will advance out of Pool D and play in the semifinals at 1 p.m EST on Saturday, May 25. They will play the winner of North Carolina and Wake Forest in Pool A.

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Julian Guilarte