The Hurricanes put the Wildcats away early with a six-run fourth inning that included an RBI double by Dale Carey and a bases clearing double by freshman Zack Collins. Miami also got a stellar relief appearance from senior Javi Salas, who pitched three scoreless innings to earn the victory after replacing starter Derik Beauprez in the fifth.
It’s been an up and down month for Salas. He threw a perfect game against Villanova on March 4 but then got rocked by Bethune-Cookman a week later in a 7-3 loss, surrendering six runs in the first inning.
“I felt like I had something to prove against them,” Salas said. “Obviously my last outing was disappointing.”
When the Hurricanes entered that last outing they were also riding a five-game win streak before getting blown out by the Wildcats in a disheartening loss that sent Miami in a downward spiral. Miami lost six of its next nine games, including four in the ACC, and fell out of the Baseball America top 25 rankings.
Now though the Hurricanes (18-12, 8-4) have seemed to regain their stride, winning five straight once again. Miami defeated Florida Gulf Coast last Wednesday before sweeping N.C. State this past weekend for its first ACC series sweep of the season.
“I think we’re a very confident team,” Salas said. “We understand that some of those games didn’t go our way but we’ve been playing hard and playing good defense lately and pitching well and that’s going to be the recipe for our success. When these guys start hitting like they did today we can make a nice run at things. We’re on a good stretch right now but we understand it’s a long year and we just have to keep focus and keep playing well.”
One of the big reasons for Miami’s current streak has been Collins, who came into Wednesday’s game red hot at the plate. In Sunday’s series finale against N.C. State, Collins hit two home runs for six-RBI and is now second in the ACC with six homers. He’s also hitting .378 in his last ten games after struggling earlier on in the season.
“I’ve always had the same approach, I’ve just been putting the bat on the ball more, grinding it out with two strikes, trying not to strike out as much and putting the ball in play,” Collins said.
“You always have more confidence when you get it together, but it’s still the same mind-set,” Collins added. It's just putting the ball in play with two strikes.”
Collins hasn’t been the only one swinging the bat well recently either. Willie Abreu went 2-for-3 with an RBI Wednesday night to extend his hitting streak to six games and is hitting .571 over his past five games.
The Hurricanes will try to stay hot at the dish Friday when they travel to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech for a three-game series before traveling to UCF on Wednesday.