May 15, 2010
ATLANTA – Chris Palaez drove in four runs with three hits to lead a 17-hit attack in support of starter Chris Hernandez, and fifth-ranked Miami evened the weekend Atlantic Coast Conference series with Georgia Tech with a 9-2 victory Saturday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The win was the eighth in nine games for the Hurricanes (37-12, 19-7 ACC), who are a game behind Virginia in the Coastal Division race. Tech (40-10, 18-8 ACC), ranked No. 6 in the nation, lost for the first time in six games and are two games behind the Cavaliers in third place in the division.
The 17 hits, seven for extra bases, were the most against an ACC opponent this season and one off the Hurricanes’ season high, one night after they got just six. The opposite was true for Tech, which mustered just six hits, one night after it amassed 15, and only two from the top six men in the batting order.
“We have a chance to win the series tomorrow, and that is all you can really focus on,” said Tech coach Danny Hall. “We have to come ready to go. These guys are a good team, and they have been playing very well. We had a good night last night, tonight was their night and now we have to be ready to go tomorrow.”
Palaez homered and singled twice in five at-bats, while Yasmani Grandal and Harold Martinez each drove in a pair of runs on two hits for the Hurricanes.
Hernandez, making his 14th start of the year, improved to 8-2 by scattering five hits through six innings. He struck out six and walked four. Sam Robinson and Daniel Miranda pitched shutout ball over the final three innings to preserve the win.
“He [Hernandez] was tough on us,” said Hall. “We had the one inning where we had the bases loaded and had Tony hit into a double play. It was a big situation in the ballgame for him, and then their sidearm lefty was tough on us as well. Couldn’t do much with them, and the few opportunities that we had, we just couldn’t cash in.”
Miami struck first with three runs in the second inning when the first five batters reached base safely on hits. Martinez belted his 15th home run of the season to score two, and Zeke DeVoss drove in the other with a single. Palaez’ RBI single in the third extended the Hurricane lead to 4-0.
Chase Burnette’s 14th homer of the year with a man on in the fourth closed the gap to 4-2, but the Hurricanes got the run back on Grandal’s RBI double with two outs in the fifth.
Miami broke the game open in the seventh when Frankie Ratcliff doubled, Grandal was intentionally walked and Palaez belted his ninth home run of the year to right field, making the score 8-2. Grandal added a solo homer, his 12th of the year, in the ninth.
Pope (7-1) suffered his first loss of the season in his first conference start, made it through five innings, giving up five runs on 11 hits.
Tech’s best threat for a big inning came in the third when it loaded the bases on a walk to Jacob Esch, Jeff Rowland was hit by a pitch and Derek Dietrich walked after one out, but Tony Plagman hit a hard ground ball right at second base for an inning-ending double play.
“It didn’t help,” said Hall. “We kind of got back in it, and then Mark [Pope] went back out and gave them a run. It looked like we were going to get out of it and then Grandal hit the double down the line to get the fifth run. The home run by Palaez was huge. We debated whether to bring a lefty in but we just felt like Buck [Farmer] was a good match up. He hit a pretty good pitch, and hit it out.”
First pitch for the finale of the weekend series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Jed Bradley (8-2) will take the mound for Georgia Tech and be opposed by David Gutierrez (5-0).