(Charlotte, N.C.) — Edgardo Villegas of the No. 11-seeded Miami Hurricanes made a leaping catch at the wall in Ieft Field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 7-7. This save allowed the Hurricanes to defeat the No. 2-seeded Clemson Tigers by one run and advanced them to the semifinals of the 2024 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship at Truist Field in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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The catch turned out to be the second of two crucial plays in the game, as Miami’s rookie outfielder Jake Kulikowski gave the Hurricanes a two-run lead entering the ninth inning with a pinch-hit home run in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

Miami is the third No. 11 seed to make it to the ACC Baseball Championship semifinals and is doing it for the second year in a row. The lowest seed in a pod has now progressed to the semifinals seven times since the conference adopted a 12-team pool play structure in 2017. That includes Pitt, which was ranked eleventh in Charlotte two seasons ago.

The Tigers won the 2023 title a year ago, making the Hurricanes the lowest-seeded team to defeat the reigning winner.

With victories over Louisville and No. 3 nationally rated Clemson, Miami went 2-0 in Pool B. The team totaled eight runs on 12 hits. Antonio Jimenez, Dorian Gonzalez Jr., Villegas, and Daniel Cuvet all had two hits apiece for the Hurricanes, with Jimenez recording a home run, three RBI, and two runs scored.

Seven different Tigers scored a hit for Clemson throughout the game, with two hits apiece from Jimmy Obertop, Jarren Purify, Jacob Hinderleider, and Cam Cannarella leading the way. Hinderleider finished the day 2-for-4 with a walk, home run, RBI, and two runs scored. Bissetta, Obertop, and Cannarella also had extra-base hits.

Gage Ziehl (5-3), the Hurricanes’ starter, earned the victory despite giving up three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and four strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched. Myles Caba (2), a reliever, pitched the final 2.0 innings to secure the save.

In a thrilling game from beginning to end, Clemson tied the score at one with an RBI double from Purify in the top of the second inning, giving the Tigers the lead for the first time in the game at 2-1. Gonzalez Jr. gave Miami an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

After just two innings of play, the Tigers’ advantage was short-lived as Miami’s bats remained hot in the bottom half of the second. Jimenez hit a three-run home ball to right-center field, and Cuvet doubled home two more to put the Hurricanes ahead 6-2.
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The advantage was trimmed to 6-3 by Clemson in the top of the third inning on a passed ball. Villegas’ two-out RBI single up the middle in the bottom half of the sixth inning gave the Hurricanes their next run, bringing the score back to four at 7-3.

In an attempt to fight their way back into the game, the Tigers scored one run on a double, wild pitch, and RBI groundout in the top of the seventh inning. They then added two more runs in the top of the eighth inning on consecutive RBI doubles by Bissetta and Obertop, cutting the deficit to one at 7-6.

As they had throughout the entire game, Miami answered with a single home run from pinch hitter Kulikowski to begin the eighth inning, putting the Hurricanes ahead by two runs, 8–6, heading into the ninth.

Hinderleider launched a single home ball to center field to start the ninth, cutting the Tigers’ deficit to just one run at 8-7, but Clemson was not about to go down without a fight.

After a walk, a popout to shortstop, and a fielder’s choice, Bissetta hit a towering fly ball deep to left field, where Miami’s Villegas made a diving catch at the wall to win the game 8–7 and advance the Hurricanes to the semifinals. The Tigers were down to their final out.

The winner of Pool C will face Miami (27–29) on Saturday, May 25, at 5 p.m. on ACC Network. The Clemson Tigers (40–14) will play their next game at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 24, against Louisville, the 7th seed.

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