Conference sweeps are starting to become a regular thing for the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes. For the third straight weekend Miami swept an ACC opponent, this time the victim being the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Hurricanes (25-12, 14-4) finished off the sweep by defeating the Panthers 7-2 Sunday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park, extending their nation-leading win streak to 12 games while also tying the school’s second best conference start in conference play. It was also the first time Miami has ever swept three consecutive ACC series.
“The whole weekend was a team thing. We pitched well, we played really good defense, and we got some big hits,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “I’m extremely happy with the way our guys are playing. Of course, 12 in a row is huge and we just need to continue to do what we’re doing. We’re doing a lot of little things to help us win.”
The catalyst all weekend for Miami was its pitching and that was the case again on Sunday. Bryan Radziewski pitched 6.2 strong innings and struck out eight batters while allowing just one hit and one earned run. After Cooper Hammond got the final out in the seventh inning, freshman reliever Bryan Garcia pitched the final two, striking outs four batters to pick up his 10th save of the season.
“With the pitching staff that we have, our main thing is keeping the guys in the game,” Radziewski said. “Right now, we know that if we give up a few runs, they’ll answer back for us just like if they make an error, we’ve got to get their backs. We all have each other’s backs. We’re clicking on all cylinders right now and it shows. We’ve won 12 in a row.”
Miami took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning before pulling away from Pittsburgh with four insurance runs. Johnny Ruiz, who finished 3-for-4, had a 2 RBI single and Alex Hernandez, 2-for-4, plated two more runs with a double to finish off the Panthers (16-19, 8-10).
The weekend couldn’t have started much better for Miami as it cruised to victory in the series opener Friday night by defeating Pittsburgh 12-2. The Hurricanes were fantastic on both the mound and at the plate as pitcher Chris Diaz improved his record to 6-0 on the season, tying a career-high with ten strikeouts while surrendering two runs on six hits, both of which came in the top of the sixth. Miami’s offense also gave Diaz plenty of run support as well, scoring runs in seven of its eight innings at the plate.
“It was a great win for us,” Morris said. “The streak extending to 10 is nice, but our guys are playing well as a team. It's a team effort. We had good pitching, good hitting, good defense, and it's a combination of a lot of things to make that happen.”
Miami led 6-0 after just four innings thanks to RBI doubles by both Tyler Palmer and Brad Fieger. Pittsburgh cut the lead to 6-2 on an RBI double from Steve Shelinsky but Miami blew the doors open in the seventh with an RBI single by Dale Carey and an RBI double by Willie Abreu to increase its lead to 10-2. Carey finished the night 3-5 with three runs scored and one RBI.
Things weren’t as easy for the Hurricanes on Saturday night though as they were forced to go to extra innings before finally coming out on top over the Panthers. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the tenth and runners on second and third, Abreu hit an infield, walk-off single to score the game’s only run and give Miami a 1-0 win.
Abreu hit a ground ball towards Pittsburgh shortstop Dylan Wolsonovich and had to slide head first into first base to beat out the throw and score John Lawroski from third. Lawroksi was pinch-running for Johnny Ruiz, who doubled earlier in the inning.
“It was great that I was able to get my bat on the ball, not strike out, and then after that, I just let my speed take care of the rest,” Abreu said. “I hustled down the first-base line as fast as I could. I saw that I had a chance and luckily enough I was safe.”
The Hurricanes also got another stellar pitching performance on Saturday, this time by Andrew Suarez, who took a no-hitter into the seventh before surrendering a one-out double to Casey Roche. Hammond relieved Suarez in the 10th and retired the side in order for his fifth win of the season.
Miami will be back on the Diamond on Wednesday when it hosts FAU. The Owls defeated the Hurricanes 5-2 back on February 19th.