Collins Home Run Keys Win #900 for Morris

Collins Home Run Keys Win #900 for Morris

17-4 • 5-2 ACC

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 1
0 0 0 0 0 3 0 4 X 7 8 0

Coral Gables, Fla. • Mark Light Field
Attendance: 3,337

13-10 • 5-2 ACC

  Pitching Stats
  W C. Diaz (5-0)
  L N. Kirby (5-1)
  S B. Garcia (6)
  Batting Stats
  Abreu, W. (3), Lopez, B. (2)
  Collins, Z. (4)
  Abreu, W. (10), Collins, Z. 2 (11), Lopez, B. 2 (11), Kennedy, G. (9), Ruiz, J. (2)
  Howard, N.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Freshman slugger Zack Collins connected on a two-run home run to break a tie game in the sixth inning, and No. 25 Miami topped No. 3 Virginia 7-1 in head coach Jim Morris’ 900th win at the helm of the Hurricanes.

“I thought it was a complete team effort,” Morris said. “Our team played exceptional defense, we got really good pitching, and of course we scored some runs.”

Despite the big hit from Collins, a matchup featuring two of the premier lefthanders in the ACC – Miami’s Chris Diaz and Virginia’s Nathan Kirby – did not disappoint. Offense was stymied for most of the night, as the two teams combined for just three hits – all singles – through the game’s first five innings.

After going ahead 3-1, Miami (13-10, 5-2 ACC) tacked on four insurance runs in the eighth, while Bryan Garcia recorded his sixth save of the season with 1.2 clean innings of relief.

Down 1-0 on an infield RBI single from Nick Howard in the top half of the sixth, Miami rallied for three runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 3-1 lead. An RBI groundout from Willie Abreu tied the game 1-1, and Collins’ fourth homer of the year – a mammoth blast off Kirby over the fence in rightfield – gave Miami the lead. The home run was the fourth for Collins and first allowed this season by Kirby, whose scoreless streak was snapped at 26.1 innings.

“2-0 count in a tie ballgame, I’m trying to put the ball off the bat hard,” Collins said of his home run swing. “You try to hit it as hard as you can everytime. I just made a great connection.”

When asked if he knew the ball would clear the fence, Collins smiled.

“Oh yeah, I knew it.”

Virginia put together a scoring opportunity in the eighth, but a breathtaking catch from senior Dale Carey, who sprinted towards the wall and fully extended to haul in a deep fly ball from Howard, helped Garcia work out of the jam. The incredible defensive play from Carey earned a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd of 3,337.

“I just remember he hit it, I was running, and at the last second I realized I had a chance,” Carey said. “Me and Willie were both going into the gap at the same time, I called ‘ball’ and I laid out.”

Morris added further praise for his star centerfielder, who finished the night 1-for-5 at the plate.

“That catch might be the best catch I have ever seen,” he said. “That was huge. If that ball drops, the game is tied.”

After a disappointing start last time out against Georgia Tech, Diaz (5-1) rebounded with a terrific performance against one of the top offenses in the conference. The Florida City, Fla., native set down the first 10 Cavaliers batters on the night, and did not allow a hit until an infield single to Daniel Pinero in the fourth. After Diaz walked Virginia slugger Mike Papi to put two runners on base, the southpaw induced a 6-4-3 double play from Virginia first baseman Nick Howard to end the threat.

“It was a huge win for us [against] one of the top five teams in the country,” Diaz said. “To be able to take the opening [game] puts us in a good place tomorrow…We played really well.”

Diaz said he entered the start with confidence, despite getting tagged for five runs against the Yellow Jackets.

“In the bullpen, I felt all my pitches were working,” he said. “I went into the game confident that I could throw every pitch for a strike, and that’s what happened tonight.”

The lefthander went a season high-tying 7.1 innings in the outing, scattering five hits and just one run. Senior Alex Hernandez nearly saved that lone Virginia run with a web gem in the sixth, fielding a high chopper and firing to first an instant after Nick Howard reached the base. Kenny Towns scored all the way from second on the play to put the Cavaliers ahead 1-0.

Collins broke the 1-1 deadlock in the sixth. He finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBI, as Miami tagged Virginia starter Nathan Kirby (5-1) for season-high totals of five hits and three runs.

“It’s an amazing feeling every time you hit a home run or even get a hit,” Collins said. “For a guy to be going out there and to be pitching his butt off trying to win this game – he’s out there for six innings and we haven’t scored a run. To pick him up like that, it felt amazing.”

A two-RBI double from Brandon Lopez and a sacrifice fly from Garrett Kennedy helped Miami pad its lead to 7-1 by the ninth inning.

Season tickets to Miami’s 2014 season at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field start for as low as $99, with a Family Plan option (two adult tickets, three youth tickets) covering all home games available for just $199. For more information, visit or call (305) 284-2263.