With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Miami’s Carl Chester ran out what appeared to be a routine ground ball to Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith.
As Smith lunged to tag the speedy Chester, the ball flew out of his glove, and momentum swung toward the top-ranked Hurricanes.
Miami scored three runs in that decisive sixth inning, Michael Mediavilla bounced back from a rough start last weekend with six shutout innings, and the top-ranked Hurricanes snapped their first losing streak of the season with a 9-2 victory over Virginia.
The Hurricanes (30-7, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) evened up their series with the Cavaliers (25-17, 10-10) and look to secure their first series victory against UVA since 2009 in Sunday’s rubber game.
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Miami broke a close ballgame open with three late-inning homers. Edgar Michelangeli, who entered the weekend with zero career home runs, clubbed his second long ball in as many nights in the bottom of the seventh to extend the Hurricane lead to 4-0. In the eighth inning, Jacob Heyward hammered an 0-2 pitch well beyond the left-field wall for a three-run homer, and Willie Abreu followed Heyward’s blast with a solo shot that just cleared the fence in right-center. The blasts, which were the Hurricanes’ first back-to-back homers of the year, came in a five-run eighth which pushed Miami’s lead to 9-0.
“You dream about this when you’re a little kid,” Michelangeli said of his homers. “If you asked me two days ago am I going to hit two home runs, obviously, I’m going to tell you, ‘No.’ ”
Mediavilla retired the first 11 batters he faced and allowed only one hit in his six innings of work, but he left the game with shoulder tightness after issuing his career-high fifth walk to open the top of the seventh. Freshman Frankie Bartow relieved Mediavilla and struck out the side, and both Mediavilla and Morris said the starter felt fine after the game.
Mediavilla’s strong outing comes one week after he allowed eight earned runs and failed to get out of the second inning in Durham.
“Last week, I probably left the ball a little up and had some tough luck wherever the ball was going,” Mediavilla said. “[I was] just trying to keep the ball down…let them continue putting the ball in play.”
Said UM Jim Morris said: “Pitchers, they like to get in a routine. Last week, [Mediavilla] didn’t throw his normal bullpen. and he threw it this week. I think that was a big difference for him.”
Chester’s hustle opened the door for the Hurricanes in the sixth. Christopher Barr doubled down the right-field line on the next pitch, and Zack Collins was intentionally walked to load the bases for Brandon Lopez. Lopez, who matched a career-high with three hits, lined a single to left field, scoring Chester with the game’s first run. A Johnny Ruiz sacrifice fly scored Barr, and Collins scored from third when the Cavaliers botched a rundown between first and second.
Before Friday’s series opener, Morris moved Heyward out of the cleanup spot, replacing him with Lopez. The move paid big dividends Saturday.
“Lopez has gotten many big hits this year,” Morris said. “We need somebody to get a big hit behind Collins, so they pitch to him more.”
As for Heyward, “you take a little bit of pressure off of him,” Morris said. “Move him down a couple of spots … of course, he got the big home run tonight.”
With the victory, Miami moves five games ahead of the Cavaliers in the ACC Coastal division.