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The No. 21 Miami Hurricanes wrapped up their weekend set with the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons in impressive fashion on Sunday, taking the series finale by a final score of 6-3.
Powered by a seventh-inning grand slam from sophomore third baseman Brad Fieger, the Hurricanes clinched a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament while earning their fifth conference series win of the season. It was Fieger's third homerun of the year, and came at a time when the Hurricanes needed it most.
With two outs in the seventh, Stephen Perez laid down a perfect push bunt to reach base. Dale Carey followed it up with a single through the left side, while Chantz Mack reached on an error charged to second baseman Conor Keniry. In stepped Fieger, who belted a no-doubter over the fence in left field to give the Hurricanes their first lead since the second inning at 6-2.
It was Miami (32-18, 14-13 ACC) who struck first against Demon Deacons starter Brian Holmes. With Michael Broad and Tyler Palmer on base in the second inning, Alex San Juan connected on a groundball fielded by Wake shortstop Pat Blair. A defensive miscue from the junior, however, ended with the ball rolling into rightfield, plating both Broad and Palmer to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead on the error.
Junior righthander Eric Whaley provided Miami with another effective outing, scattering seven hits and two earned runs over six innings of work. The Pompano Beach, Fla. native threw 97 pitches and 62 strikes in the game, striking out four batters while walking only one.
Both of those runs came in the fourth inning, where Whaley allowed a lead-off homerun to Demon Deacons (28-22, 10-17 ACC) slugger Mac Williamson over the scoreboard in left field. After recording back-to-back outs on a foul-out and groundout, Whaley then allowed three consecutive hits that resulted in a tie ballgame. A double ripped to the gap in right-center by Kevin Jordan scored third baseman Mark Rhine for Wake Forest's second run of the inning.
After the early defensive miscue, Holmes was able to match his starting counterpart in effectiveness. The Lawrenceville, Ga. native pitched six strong innings of his own, allowing only four hits to the Hurricanes line-up. The junior struck out four batters and issued three walks, allowing no earned runs in an impressive showing.
The two teams then turned to their respective bullpens, as sophomore Adam Sargent and freshman Chris Diaz provided a near flawless seventh inning for the Hurricanes. Wake reliever Michael Dimock's missed fastball, resulting in the Fieger slam, proved the difference-maker in the win. Despite walking two batters in the ninth, AJ Salcines closed the door on his fourth save of the season and a key conference win for the Hurricanes.
Miami returns to Alex Rodriguez Park on Tuesday, May 15 for their home finale against Florida Gulf Coast before traveling to Georgia Tech for their final regular season series of 2012.