Make it six straight series for the Miami Hurricanes. And 21 victories in their last 23 games.
Miami, ranked fourth by Collegiate Baseball and 10th by Baseball America, defeated Alabama State 6-3 on Sunday to take two of three games from the Hornets. The Hurricanes took the series opener 11-1 on Friday night but dropped Saturday’s matchup 6-5 after winning six straight games.
Friday night’s contest was anything less than a contest as Miami scored six runs in the first inning to cruise to the 11-1 victory. The Hurricanes scored three more over the next two innings as well and tagged Hornets starting pitcher T.J. Renda for nine total runs, six earned, on ten hits to pick up their sixth straight win.
Senior second baseman Alex Hernandez had the hottest bat on the night, finishing with a career-high 4 RBI. He singled in the first, doubled in the third, and singled in the fifth, coming up just a home run shy of the cycle. Miami also got a solid outing from starting pitcher Chris Diaz, who struck out six batters over six innings and only gave up one earned run in the third despite surrendering eight hits.
“We’ve been pitching, we’ve been playing good defense and we’ve been getting hits when we need them,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “They believe in themselves in all phases of the game right now.”
One phase that hurt Miami on Saturday night however was its fielding. The Hurricanes committed four errors that ultimately led to their 6-5 loss.
After falling behind 3-0 in the second, Miami tied the game with a three-run sixth but fell behind again 5-3 in the top of the seventh thanks to two unearned runs after Hernandez dropped a pop up earlier in the inning. Willie Abreu tied the game with a two-RBI single in the bottom half of the inning but fielding plagued Miami once again in the eighth. That’s when Alabama State scored the go-ahead run on an error by first baseman Brad Fieger, who allowed a ground ball to go right underneath his glove.
“It's a tough loss,” Morris said. “All the things we've been doing for the last month to win all these games, we did the opposite tonight. We weren't fundamentally sound and we didn't execute.”
Alabama State second baseman Einar Muniz also hurt the Hurricanes, finishing 3 for 3 with two runs scored. Miami starting pitcher Andrew Suarez gave up five runs but only three of them were earned. Those came in the second inning that put the Hurricanes in an early hole.
The Hurricanes fell behind 3-0 again in the rubber match Sunday afternoon but recovered to score six runs over the next three innings to defeat the Hornets 6-3 to finish off their six straight series win. Starting pitcher Bryan Radziewski also did his part, improving his record to 5-2 while striking out seven batters to move him into 10th place in all-time strikeouts with 308.
“It's a great accomplishment, but more importantly are the wins,” Radziewski said. “I've turned my season around from the first half to now, and that's all I've been really focusing on.”
Radziewski gave up three runs in the top of the fourth but Miami gave him the lead with four runs in the bottom half of the frame. After Brandon Lopez hit a two-RBI double, Garrett Kennedy hit an RBI-single to tie the game 3-3. The Hurricanes later took a 4-3 lead thanks to an error by Hornets centerfielder Richard Amion. Dale Carey hit a fly ball that Amion lost in the wind that allowed Laz Rivera, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, to score from third.
“There were runners on first and third, and I'm thinking hit something up the middle hard,” Carey said. “With the wind blowing in, it wasn't what I wanted, but it did the job, and I'm happy with that.”
Carey also had nothing but praise afterwards for Alabama State despite not being able to pull off the sweep.
“We always want to sweep, but we're happy with the weekend,” Carey said. “That's a good team over there in Alabama State. They’re for sure going to be in a regional and it’s good to beat a time like that.”
Miami will be back on the diamond Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park when it hosts Florida Gulf Coast at 7 PM. The Hurricanes have beaten the Eagles in both of the teams’ two previous meetings this season.