After Miami split a doubleheader on Friday with North Carolina that included a grueling 6-5 win in 16 innings, the Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels 2-0 on Saturday to finish the regular season atop off the ACC. Miami clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which gets begins Tuesday at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C.
Miami (40-15, 24-6) began the season 13-12 but won 27 of its last 30 games to finish the regular season with 40 wins for the first time since 2008. That was also the last time the Hurricanes made the College World Series. Perhaps even more impressive is that Miami became just the fourth team ever to win 24 ACC games in a single season, joining Clemson (2006) and Florida State (2008 and 2012)
“It's a very good accomplishment,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “Our guys have worked very hard - players, coaches, everybody. We stuck together as a team. We had a few injuries here and there, but the guys have always stuck together and taken up for each other.”
The No. 7 Hurricanes scored quickly in the top of the first inning when David Thompson singled to score Tyler Palmer, who tripled earlier in the frame. Miami added another run in the fourth thanks to a sacrifice fly by Johnny Ruiz to score Thompson.
Thompson made his third consecutive start after missing 32 games after having surgery to remove a rib and repair an issue that caused a blood clot in his right arm. He finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored Saturday and combined to go 4-for-12 for the series.
“I feel great physically, there was a lot of emotions out there,” Thompson said of his return. “I was super nervous, especially that first game yesterday. It was just so amazing being back out there and such a blessing.”
Bryan Radziewski also pitched six strong innings for the Hurricanes, striking out six batters while scattering six hits to keep the Tar Heels scoreless. Freshman closer Bryan Garcia also picked up his 15th save of the season.
“We kept going and never looked back,” Radziewski said of Miami’s turnaround. “It's a testament to all the hard work we put in, and all the freshmen who needed to get their feet wet.”
Senior Tyler Palmer also had a big weekend for the Hurricanes that included a two-RBI walk off single in Friday’s 16-inning marathon. His triple on Saturday also helped set up Miami’s first run of the game. However, Palmer made it a point during postgame that his team can’t get too excited too soon.
“When we get two wins in a weekend, we want the third. We have to stay hungry,” Palmer said. “This is not the first time the program has won an ACC Regular Season Championship. There's history in this program, we want to make it back to Omaha…that’s been our motto all season.”
“We’re not done yet.”