Miami’s mistakes prove costly, allows No. 9 Duke to walk off Hurricanes 4-3 in opening game

Daniel Cuvet runs to first base during Miami's game against Stonehill at Mark Light Field on March 6, 2024. Photo credit: Alexandra Fisher

Despite another strong effort from Gage Ziehl, the Miami Hurricanes (15-14, 6-7 ACC) failed to assist their ace on Friday evening at Jack Coombs Field in Durham, North Carolina, making far too many errors on the field and the bases. Those mistakes piled up and proved costly, as the ninth-ranked Duke Blue Devils (22-8, 7-6 ACC) rallied to defeat the Hurricanes, 4-3.

To begin the bottom of the ninth, Miami first baseman Jason Torres dropped a routine pop-up in foul territory for the second time in the game. On the following pitch, Daniel Cuvet overthrew Torres on a routine grounder to first, allowing Duke’s Alex Stone to advance to second with no one out.

Following a fielder’s choice that didn’t result in an out and an intentional walk, UM reliever Nick Robert was forced to work around a bases-loaded-no-one-out situation to prevent a Blue Devils walk-off.

After striking out Duke’s Tyler Albright, Robert made an incredible play defensively to get the runner out at home and keep the score tied. However, the next batter, Ben Miller, smacked a single past the diving Cuvet, bringing home the game-winning run.

While UM struggled offensively, Ziehl held Duke’s offense at bay, providing another dominant performance. Following a performance that earned him ACC Player of the Week, Ziehl followed his 15-strikeout complete game against No. 3 Clemson with eight masterful innings of work. The Hurricanes’ Friday night starter struck out five batters, while only surrendering three runs on four hits.

Ziehl’s only hiccup came in the fifth inning – the only frame where the UM starter allowed any runs.

After allowing a lead-off walk and single, Duke’s Wallace Clark smacked an RBI single through the left side of the infield, bringing the deficit to one with no outs in the inning. Two batters later, Albright smashed a two-run single to the right side of the infield, allowing the Blue Devils to take a 3-2 lead.

The Hurricanes tied the score back up the following inning when Edgardo Villegas laced an RBI single to right field, bringing home Carlos Perez.

The Hurricanes struck first this afternoon, scoring two early runs to open the game. In the top of the second inning, UM had the bases loaded with one out, causing early trouble for Duke starter Jonathan Santucci.

UM freshman Antonio Jimenez brought Torres home from third on a sac fly, and following a Jacoby Long single, Villegas was due up with the bases reloaded. On a 2-2 count, Villegas took Santucci’s curveball to his upper back, bringing home Miami’s second run of the inning.

Miami cost itself a couple of key opportunities that could have gone a long way against one of the premier teams in the country.

In the top of the seventh inning, with runners on first and second with one out, UM’s Dorian Gonzalez Jr. was too far off the bag at second. Duke pitcher Owen Proksch noticed it right away, picking off the junior and preventing Miami from scoring.

In the ninth, ‘Canes sophomore Blake Cyr worked himself a bunt single to lead off the inning, giving Miami some much-needed offensive juice. However, with Cuvet up, Cyr took off to second, but had an awful jump and was thrown out easily.

These base-running errors mounted up and proved to be one of the differences for the Hurricanes in their loss on Friday evening.

Miami looks to end its four-game losing streak with another matchup against the Blue Devils on Saturday afternoon. Miami’s Rafe Schlesinger is slated to toe the slab at Jack Coombs Field in Durham, North Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.