Miami Flexes Late To Outlast Virginia Tech Baseball In Friday Night Thriller

Brett Renfrow and Virginia Tech fought back after falling behind early but couldn’t close out Friday’s game vs. Miami. (Morgan Gay)

In a game chock full of runs, Miami used a late surge powered by the longball to outlast Virginia Tech in an 8-6 thriller on Friday night at English Field.

After blowing an early four-run lead, the Hurricanes (22-26, 9-16 ACC) plated three runs across the final three innings — punctuated by two home runs to take the lead in the ninth — to down the Hokies (31-16, 13-12) in a back-and-forth affair.

“If you come out and give up four in the first and lose 9-0, you don’t feel too good about that,” Tech head coach John Szefc said after the game. “Our guys kind of came back and hung in there. [Miami], they’re good. They’re way better than what — I don’t even know how those guys have lost 16 games in this league. But that’s the way this league is. But we’ll come out tomorrow and we’ll be at our best tomorrow.”

The Canes plated four runs before the first out in the top of the first inning as they attacked Hokies starter Brett Renfrow right out of the gates, recording four consecutive hits, including a three-run home run from Daniel Cuvet and a solo home run from Dorian Gonzalez Jr. But from that point forward, Tech’s freshman ace was extremely solid, retiring 16 of the next 21 batters he faced and only allowing one extra run on a second solo shot from Gonzalez.

“You see it all year — sometimes he doesn’t get out to a great start and ends up giving us five, six, seven [innings],” Hokies reliever David Shoemaker said of Renfrow. “As a freshman, it’s kind of ridiculous to be able to do that. But I mean, we expected that to happen. I was never really concerned. We didn’t have anyone up in the bullpen until the fourth inning. We put a lot of faith in him.”

Renfrow’s ability to hold things down opened the door for Tech to slowly but surely crawl back into the ballgame. Ben Watson opened the scoring with an RBI double in the third inning before Gehrig Ebel and Carson DeMartini combined for a pair of home runs in the fourth to tie the game at four. In the fifth, a Clay Grady sac fly tied it at five.

DeMartini’s solo shot — which came with two strikes and two outs — brought his season total to 19, tying the program record since it joined the ACC in 2005 (Tanner Schobel, 2022). No Hokie has hit 20 homers in a season since Kevin Barker in 1996.

After Renfrow gave up a one-out walk in the sixth to put the go-ahead run aboard, Wyatt Parliament was able to come in and shut the door with back-to-back strikeouts. 

And in the home half of the frame, Ebel teed off for his second homer of the ballgame — a leadoff no-doubter to left center — to give the Hokies their first lead of the night at 6-5.

“I feel like I’m committed up there,” Ebel said. “I know what I want to hit. I got the pitches I want to hit today. I just made little adjustments, got the same pitches and executed my plan. So that’s all it is.”

But Parliament’s electricity didn’t carry over to the seventh as he yielded two baserunners before recording an out. When Jordan Little entered the game to calm things down, he walked the first batter he faced on five pitches.

Then Szefc turned to Shoemaker, who did his job and then some. With the bases loaded and nobody out, he induced a key 4-6-3 double play, though the tying run was allowed to score. And after receiving some generous strike calls — which Miami head coach JD Arteaga took much exception to, leading to his ejection — he struck out the final batter of the inning to get out with minimal damage done.

“It’s just my job,” Shoemaker said. “Come in, the sinker gets a double play. … I just did what was asked of me.”

Neither team had a chance to break through until the Hokies loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth, where a key misplay doomed their chances. With DeMartini at the plate, they opted to put on a suicide squeeze, but he missed the bunt, allowing the go-ahead run to easily be tagged out at home. 

On the next pitch, DeMartini struck out to end the inning.

“We practice it all the time,” Szefc said. “You live and you die with it. So we died with it. That didn’t necessarily work out, but you give up two solo home runs in the ninth. It could have been different, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

The top of the ninth was equally as unkind to Virginia Tech. After Shoemaker struck out JD Urso on a called check swing to lead things off — which Urso argued to the tune of another ejection, meaning he cannot play in Saturday’s game — Jacoby Long stepped up to the plate. After a slicing pop up in foul ground was dropped by Ebel, he emphatically crushed the game’s winning run on a 432-foot solo homer to left field.

With two outs in the ninth, Brady Kirtner took over on the mound to shut things down, but the junior right-hander gave up a full-count solo home run to Cuvet to pad the Hurricanes’ lead at 8-6.

Tech’s lineup had one final chance in the bottom of the ninth but went down in order with a trio of loud flyouts to seal its third consecutive Friday loss.

Miami will try and win its first ACC series in its last seven attempts on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network with junior southpaw Rafe Schlesinger (3-4, 5.68 ERA in 65 innings) on the bump. The Hokies will throw Jeremy Neff (1-1, 7.61 ERA in 38 innings) for his fourth consecutive weekend start. 

“We’re at the part of the season where we’ve kind of gotta go,” Ebel said. “No matter what, no matter the score, we have to keep pushing. I felt like we played a really good game today. And it just didn’t work our way. It just happens.”

Box Score: Miami 8, Virginia Tech 6 

4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. This team and coach are only slightly above average in P5 baseball. Playing teams like Ohio and N C A&T gets you W’s but does not improve the team any at all. It could be even worse because the players might actually believe they are better than they are.

    Great that we came back from being down 4-0, but terrible that we surrendered the lead when we got it. Miami is not even very good this year.

    1. Agree. Anything less than 10 runs and our pitching won’t hold it. Won’t get any better with uva coming up.

  2. The suicide squeeze was an asinine call by the coach. As soon as runner broke for home, Miami pitcher did exactly as is taught (even in high school), which is throw an unhittable pitch. A safety squeeze it one thing, a suicide squeeze, no. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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