Freshmen feast for six RBIs to push past Clemson and keep baseball’s season alive

Sophomore infielder Jason Torres celebrates in Miami’s game versus Clemson University at Mark Light Field on March 30, 2024. Photo credit: Emily Rice

Coming off the heels of a season-saving win against Louisville, the ‘Canes were up against the wall once again with a win-or-go-home situation against the projected national No. 6 seed, Clemson. Thanks to clutch extra-base hits from the team’s freshman hitters and a valiant effort by Gage Ziehl on the mound, Miami was able to extend its season at least another game, defeating the Tigers in an 8-7 nail-biter.

The biggest inning at the plate for the Hurricanes came in the bottom of the second and was vital in jumping out to an early lead. Heading into the inning, Clemson was up 2-1 with the bottom of the order due up for Miami.

Carlos Perez led off the frame with a single, followed by Lorenzo Carrier, who doubled, putting runners on second and third with nobody out, setting the stage for freshman Antonio Jimenez.

On just the first pitch of his at-bat, Jimenez launched only his second homer of the year, giving UM a two-run lead and bringing much-needed energy to the dugout.

Daniel Cuvet kept up his incredible ACC tournament play, capping off the five-run Miami second inning with a two-run double, giving the ’Canes a 6-2 lead through two.

While it was not his most smooth start of the year, Ziehl was able to grind through six solid innings of work and put the team in a position to close out the dangerous Tiger lineup.

Ziehl finished with six innings, six hits, three runs (two earned), three walks and four strikeouts. This line was good enough to see him exit the game with UM on top 7-3 heading into the late innings.

With how good this Clemson lineup has been all year, UM head coach JD Arteaga and the ‘Canes knew that the ballgame was far from over, and promptly, the Tigers began their climb back into the game.

Clemson scratched across three runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make it just a one-run game, with the Hurricanes coming to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.

Desperately needing another insurance run were the ’Canes when freshman Jake Kulikowski stepped into the box for his first at-bat of the ACC tournament, but it certainly did not look that way.

Straight from the bench, Kulikowski deposited a 2-1 pitch for a no-doubt home run over the right field fence, lighting a fire in the Miami dugout with victory just three outs away and now ahead by two runs.

To make things interesting, the first batter up for Clemson in the ninth, Jacob Hinderleider, homered to dead center, shrinking the lead to just a run.

Next, Golden Spikes Award semifinalist Blake Wright stepped up and drew a walk, putting the tying run on first base with no one out.

Myles Caba, the Hurricanes most dependable reliever as of late, then dialed it in, getting star Cam Cannarella to pop out followed by a groundout to Cuvet, making the situation two outs and a runner still on first.

Tristan Bissetta then smoked a flyball into deep left-center field that sent Edgardo Villegas to the track, who leaped up and caught what would have likely been a game-tying double and instead kept the Miami baseball season alive, sealing the 8-7 victory.

Slated next for the Hurricanes is yet another win-or-go-home game against the winner of Pool C, the Duke Blue Devils, who took care of North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday night.