ATLANTA, Ga. — April showers bring May flowers.
After dropping the first two games of the series to Georgia Tech, the third-ranked Miami Hurricanes salvaged the series Sunday in an emphatic fashion.
Miami mashed four home runs and limited one of the most potent lineups in the nation, buzzing past the Yellow Jackets, 13-2, at Mac Nease Baseball Park.
“The home runs were big, there’s no doubt,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “It’s good to see us score and get ahead early. We did a better job of being more selective and getting good pitches to drive.”
The Hurricanes (32-12, 17-7 ACC) scored in four of the first five innings, storming out to a 6-1 advantage over Georgia Tech (27-18, 12-12 ACC).
Junior catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first.
One inning later, freshman designated hitter Renzo Gonzalez doubled Miami’s lead with an opposite-field extra-base hit.
The Hurricanes pushed their cushion to three in the frame, capitalizing on an error by Georgia Tech shortstop Jadyn Jackson.
The Yellow Jackets chipped away at the deficit with a tally in the third, but they wouldn’t get closer.
In the fourth, the Hurricane home run derby began.
Second baseman Henry Wallen whacked his first career homer, smacking a first-pitch fastball into the trees beyond the right-field wall.
“I knew it was gone off the bat,” Wallen said. “It felt good to help my team. I was just trying to attack the first pitch. I haven’t really been doing that. As I got in the dugout, everybody was showing me love.”
In the fifth, Romero Jr. turned on an inside fastball, launching a two-run bomb into the shrubbery, as well.
“We were aggressive and we attacked,” said Romero Jr., who finished the weekend with three home runs and six RBI. “We came back and fought. It shows a lot about our character and shows that we have each other’s backs.”
Despite already leading by five, the Hurricanes’ offensive outburst was just getting started.
In the seventh, sophomore third base Yohandy Morales, who recorded his second career four-hit game, roped an RBI double to deep left center, extending Miami’s cushion to 7-1.
Georgia Tech got a run back in the bottom half, but the Hurricanes put the nail in the coffin in the final frame.
Sophomore outfielder Jacob Burke singled through the left side, driving in Morales from second to spark the six-run ninth.
Two batters later, right fielder Mike Rosario kept the line moving with an RBI knock of his own.
Freshman Gaby Gutierrez drew a walk, setting the stage for fellow rookie Ariel Garcia.
Garcia crushed a belt-high heater over the left-field fence for a three-run jack, ballooning the Hurricanes’ lead to 12-2.
One pitch after Garcia’s first career dinger, sophomore first baseman CJ Kayfus capped off the home run barrage with a solo shot.
“When we get good pitches to hit, our guys can do damage with those pitches,” DiMare said. “It’s all about plate discipline and not chasing pitches out of the zone,”
Miami’s 13 runs on 16 hits were more than enough for starter Alejandro Rosario.
Rosario (2-2) tossed five innings of one-run baseball, striking out six along the way. The right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced and stranded seven Yellow Jackets over his last three innings.
“I thought he threw really well,” DiMare said. “His command was really good and kept the ball down. He was able to work both sides of the plate, and that’s against a very good offensive team.”
Georgia Tech hurler Chance Huff (3-3) was tagged with the loss after surrendering six runs, five earned, across the first five frames.
After the weekend road swing in Atlanta, the Hurricanes head home to host North Dakota State for a three-game set. The series opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Mark Light Field.
“We can fight,” Wallen said. “Every team goes through this. We’re a tough team and we bounced back.”
Butler, Heat blast past Celtics in Game 1
Jimmy Butler scored 27 of his 41 points after the break, and Miami’s defense locked down Boston to flip an eight-point halftime deficit into a 17-point lead by the end of the third quarter in a 118-107 conquest.
The Celtics lost Al Horford to health and safety protocols in the hours before the series started and ruled Marcus Smart out with the right mid-foot sprain he suffered in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series. Whether they ran out of gas two days after their hard-fought battle with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks or succumbed to Miami’s relentlessness, the Celtics collapsed after halftime and never recovered.
The Heat, who were also without Kyle Lowry (hamstring), found scoring from Tyler Herro (18 points, eight rebounds), Gabe Vincent (17 points) and Max Strus (11 points). Their defense changed the course of a game that nearly got away from them, amassing 12 blocks and forcing 16 turnovers (turned into 19 points).
The Celtics also lost center Robert Williams III with six minutes remaining in the game. He experienced cramping in his left leg, which also required meniscus surgery in March and suffered a bone bruise against the Bucks. After missing the last four games of the conference semifinals, Williams returned to the starting lineup against the Heat and anchored a defense that slowed Miami early, staking Boston to an 18-9 start.
Herro, the Sixth Man of the Year, settled the Heat’s offense, totaling seven of his points and three of his assists in the first quarter to withstand Boston’s early onslaught and keep their deficit respectable, 28-25.
Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 29 points in the first half, when the Celtics led by as many as 13 points and 62-54 at the break. But Miami never quit. Butler and Bam Adebayo totaled seven points on a 10-1 run to start the second half, giving the Heat their first lead since they inched ahead for 16 seconds in the first quarter.
Butler inspired a stifling defensive effort after Boston shot 59% from the field in the first half. Two straight steals led to four of his 11 points during Miami’s 22-2 start to the third quarter. The Celtics trailed, 76-64. When the third quarter was done, Boston had eight turnovers and just two field goals on 15 attempts.
The Heat’s lead reached 96-76 on three Herro free throws to start the fourth quarter. Boston was lost. Jaylen Brown could not find any seams in the defense, and the Celtics were relying on Payton Pritchard, Daniel Theis and Aaron Nesmith off the bench — three players on the fringes of their healthy rotation.
The Celtics scratched back within nine points with seven minutes remaining and 114-107 just inside of two minutes, but Butler and the Heat had an answer for every run. His block of Pritchard erased Boston’s final hope, and his last-minute layup gave him the fifth 40-point game of his playoff career and third this year.
– – – – – – –
Cubs pitcher Brandon Hughes makes MLB history in remarkable debut
His Major League debut occurred more suddenly than he would have liked on Tuesday night, but Chicago Cubs pitcher Brandon Hughes made the most of the occasion as he made big-league history at the Friendly Confines.
Hughes, called up to the Cubs on Tuesday before the team’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, was summoned into the game when relief pitcher Daniel Norris was forced to leave the contest because of soreness in his right Achilles tendon.
Needless to say, Hughes made quite the impression, as he struck out the final two batters of the inning and then struck out the side in the seventh inning.
In addition to being impressive, the feat was actually historic. According to STATS Inc. (as cited by Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) , Hughes is the first pitcher in modern baseball history to record at least five outs and to have them all come via strikeout in his MLB debut.
Infielder Christopher Morel, who was called up along with Hughes on Tuesday, also made his big-league debut, and he joined the party by smacking a home run into the left field bleachers in the eighth inning. In doing so, he became the first Cubs player since Willson Contreras to hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat.
To put the icing on the proverbial cake, the Cubs blanked the Pirates for the second consecutive night, winning 7-0 at Wrigley Field.
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Judge homers twice as Yankees edge Orioles 5-4
BALTIMORE (AP) — The new wall in left field at Camden Yards served its purpose, denying Aaron Judge a home run on his 399-foot drive in the first inning.
“I learned my lesson and decided to go to right field after that,” he said.
The ballpark couldn’t hold Judge’s next two hits, a pair of solo homers that helped the New York Yankees to a 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night. Judge and reliever Michael King were the biggest stars of this victory, New York’s 20th in its last 23 games.
Judge came within a few feet of a three-homer game. His bid in the first hit high off the wall — which was moved back and made taller before this season. He settled for an RBI double, then went deep in the third and fifth to increase his major league-leading home run total to 14.
Judge added a single in the eighth for his third four-hit game and first since 2019.
Ramón Urías homered for the Orioles, who matched a season high with their fifth straight loss. Down 5-3, Baltimore managed a run against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth on a two-out double by Ryan McKenna. With men on second and third, Chapman retired Cedric Mullins on a foul pop for his ninth save in nine chances.
Jameson Taillon (4-1) allowed three runs in five-plus innings. King came on after a leadoff double in the sixth and retired all nine of his hitters with six strikeouts before giving way to Chapman.
After Urías tied the game at 1 with a homer in the second, Judge began hitting to parts of the ballpark that are unchanged this year. His home run to right-center made it 2-1 in the third. After a pair of Baltimore runs in the fourth, Judge tied it with a shot to center.
In the sixth, DJ LeMahieu came up with the bases loaded and one out against Dillon Tate (0-2) and put the Yankees ahead with a groundball. Baltimore then pitched to Judge with first base open, and he grounded out.
An error by Urías at shortstop with two out in the seventh gifted New York an unearned run that made it 5-3.
Judge’s two homers went 410 and 422 feet, according to Statcast, after his double was just under 400. Judge’s reaction to the new dimensions at Camden Yards was about what you’d expect from a right-handed slugger.
“It’s a travesty man. I’m pretty upset,” Judge said. “It looks like a create-a-park now. I didn’t like it because I always like coming here and playing here. Hopefully maybe in a couple years they can put it back in.”
King induced 10 swings and misses, equaling the total by all of Baltimore’s pitchers combined.
“He’s been one of the best relievers in the league, especially considering the amount of innings we’ve been able to get from him,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Really impact innings.”
Before the game, the Orioles designated LHP Logan Allen for assignment and optioned INF Rylan Bannon to Triple-A Norfolk. They selected the contract of LHP Nick Vespi and recalled RHP Logan Gillaspie from Norfolk.
Gillaspie pitched the final two innings, keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard in his big league debut.
Orioles: OF Austin Hays (hand) returned after missing four games. He misplayed Judge’s drive in the first, allowing it to bounce past him off the wall, but he made up for that by throwing Judge out at third when the slugger tried for a triple.
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