May 22, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dave DiNatale’s three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning off of Georgia Tech closer Brad Rulon helped No. 1 seed Miami beat the Yellow Jackets, 15-12, on the second day of the 2008 ACC Baseball Tournament at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
DiNatale’s blast to left-center field was his second home run and Miami’s sixth home run of the day. The Hurricanes and Yellow Jackets combined for an ACC Tournament record eight home runs.
Georgia Tech (39-18), one win shy of the 20th 40-win season in school history, is eliminated from contention for Sunday’s ACC championship game because the Yellow Jackets will lose any tie-breaker with 2-0 Miami.
“It was a tough ballgame to lose,” head coach Danny Hall said. “I’m proud of the way our guys battled back all night.
“It looked like the game was set up perfectly for us, taking a lead into the ninth with Rulon coming in. But, they are an outstanding hitting team and the margin for error is very slim. We made too many mistakes on their hitters. Every time we made a mistake, they hit it out of the ballpark. Give them credit. They proved to be a great team.”
Tech had one last gasp in the bottom of the ninth when Tony Plagman opened the inning with a single, but Hurricane reliever Carlos Gutierrez produced three straight outs to end the game.
Miami’s ninth-inning rally followed a three-run eighth inning by Georgia Tech that saw the Yellow Jackets take a 12-11 lead. Trailing 11-9, the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with no outs and scored when Luke Murton was hit by a pitch. Tech scored the tying and leading runs on one wild pitch when Gutierrez’ errant pitch bounced away from home plate, allowing Charlie Blackmon and Jeff Rowland to score.
Tech’s lead, however, would be brief as Miami scored four ninth-inning runs on four hits. Following DiNatale’s three-run blast, the Hurricanes added an insurance run when Jamil Weeks’ single scored Yasmani Grandal.
“I feel like these last two games have prepared us for the (NCAA) regionals and Saturday,” Jason Haniger said. “We proved to ourselves we can come back against any team in the country and I think our team is going to feel good about it Saturday and next week.”
For the second straight day, Georgia Tech was involved in a near-four-hour game in which the Yellow Jackets scored double-digit runs. The Jackets, who do not play Friday, beat NC State 10-9 on Wednesday in the opening day of the tournament.
Miami didn’t wait long to demonstrate it’s long-ball prowess. Blake Tekotte lined Georgia Tech starter David Duncan’s third pitch of the game into the right-field bleachers, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.
Miami used the long ball again in the top of the third inning to extend the lead to 4-0. With two outs, Tekotte singled and scored on a Jamil Weeks triple. That set the stage for Yonder Alonzo, the ACC home run leader, who smashed a two-run blast to opposite (left-center) field.
Georgia Tech evened the score, 4-4, with a four-run third inning. Chris House (single), Patrick Long (hit-by-pitch) and Haniger (bunt single) loaded the bases with no outs. Charlie Blackmon smacked a two-run single and later scored, along with Haniger, on a two-run double by Derek Dietrich.
Tech’s Brad Feltes kept the score at 4-4 during Miami’s half of the fourth inning. With Hurricanes on first and second and no one out, Feltes cleanly fielded a Joey Terdoslavich ground ball, stepped on third base and fired a strike to first for the double play. Duncan struck out DiNatale to end the threat.
The Yellow Jackets took the lead for the first time – and chased Miami starter Eric Erickson -in the bottom of the fourth when Plagman doubled and scored on a Long single. Tech couldn’t take advantage of a golden opportunity later in the inning when it left the bases loaded.
Tech’s lead was short-lived, and again, Miami rallied with two outs. Weeks drew a two-out bases on balls and trotted home when Yonder belted his second home run of the game to give the Hurricanes a 6-5 lead.
Miami appeared to blow open a close game with a four-run sixth inning using yet another two-out rally. And again, the Hurricanes used the long ball. First DiNatale smashed a two-run homer, then Grandal hit a solo round-tripper, Miami’s fifth of the game, to give the `Canes a 9-5 lead. After Tekotte got on via bunt single, he stole second and third base and scored on a Duncan wild pitch to give Miami a 10-5 lead.
Georgia Tech refused to go quietly and the Yellow Jackets flexed their home run muscle in the process with back-to-back home runs off of two Miami relievers. Jeff Rowland hit a two-run home run and Luke Murton followed with a solo shot over the wall to pull Tech to within one run, 10-9.
Miami added another run in the seventh off of Tech reliever Andrew Robinson. Ryan Jackson led off the inning with a walk and later scored on pinch-hitter Adan Severino’s single for an 11-9 advantage.
Nine different Yellow Jackets had at least one base hit, paced by Haniger, who was 4-of-5, and Rowland, who was 3-of-3.
Georgia Tech, which plays Clemson Saturday (10 a.m.), will take no consolation in playing the top-seeded Hurricanes close. Miami swept a three-game mid-April series from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Hurricanes, ranked No. 1 nationally at the time, outscored the Yellow Jackets 34-13 in that series.