It was a wild three-game series that went back and forth all weekend but it ended with a loss for the Miami Hurricanes Monday night at Alex Rodriguez Park, who lost two out of three games to the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers in the process.
Tied 3-3 entering the ninth, Daniel Pinero doubled to put two runners on for Virginia. Two batters later first baseman Nick Howard drove in two runs with a bases loaded single off of reliever Bryan Garcia to propel the Cavaliers to a 5-3 victory and hand the Hurricanes their second loss in as many nights.
“Virginia has an outstanding club, you gotta give them credit for that’’ Miami coach Jim Morris said. “We’re that close to being a good club. We made a couple of mistakes offensively and defensively, not bunting guys over or we threw to the wrong base one time and walked too many guys today. You can’t do that against a good club and expect to win and still we were that close to winning the game. We had a chance to win all three games and unfortunately we lost two out of three.”
Close being the key word. Instead of a big series win, Miami has now dropped out of Baseball America’s top-25 rankings.
Miami (13-12, 5-4) jumped out to an early lead in the second inning. After loading the bases, Willie Abreu hit a triple into left field off of starter Brandon Waddell to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead. Virginia (19-4, 7-2) answered in the fifth with four hits and three runs off of Miami starter Bryan Radziewski to tie the game 3-3, who struck out seven batters in the game but allowed a career-high six walks.
“It was a great game. It just came down to little things,” Radziewski said. “I think they scored their runs in the fifth - we had a couple bad breaks, and that's what cost us the ballgame.”
“We played most of the game well. We just gotta put the little things together’’ Abreu added. “We’re hanging in there and we can beat anyone in the country. We’re confident like that and we know our coaches have that confidence in us and also all the teammates; everybody has confidence in one another. We’re going to continue to battle. No mistakes are going to stop us from working harder every day.”
The series started off promising for Miami Saturday night as it won the opener 7-1 in Jim Morris’s 900th career win. Freshman Zack Collins broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with a two-run home run to put the Hurricanes ahead for good. Miami scored four more runs in the eighth to secure the victory.
Starter Chris Diaz threw 7.1 innings, surrendering just one run on five hits to improve his record to 5-0 on the season and Garcia pitched the final 1.2 to notch his sixth save of the season.
But the Hurricanes found themselves in heartbreak city Sunday night, losing 8-3 in extra innings. Miami returned to its troubled form, a form that’s included a lack of offense, defensive miscues, and an inconsistent bullpen for stretches of the season.
“It’s frustrating. It’s the little things. We could’ve won the game,” Morris said Sunday. “We got outhit, big time. We got out of a lot of jams, but still, at the end, making a basic bunt play defensively, making a basic bunt play offensively was the difference in the game. We have to play better than that. We need to get more than three hits too. Jeez, we’ve got to swing the bats a little bit better.”
Miami took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning on a 2-RBI double by freshman Johnny Ruiz but struggled mightily at the plate. Virginia out hit Miami 16-3 and it finally caught up to the Hurricanes late in the game when the Cavaliers scored and two runs in the seventh to tie the game 2-2.
Virginia then plated six runs in the 11th off Miami’s bullpen. Enrique Sosa loaded the bases on a single, an error, and a hit batter, all with no outs. That allowed the Cavaliers to blow the game open and soar to victory.
This weekend marked the third time in four series this season where Miami has won the opener then proceeded to drop the next two games. The Hurricanes will look to get back on track Wednesday night when they face Florida Gulf Coast back at Alex Rodriguez Park, which they defeated 5-2 in extra innings last Wednesday.