No. 4 Baseball Captures Sixth Straight Win
Coral Gables, Fla. • Alex Rodriguez Park
|W||C. Diaz (8-0)|
|L||TJ Renda (5-5)|
|Hernandez, A. (7)|
|Marrero, E., Amion, R.|
|Hernandez, A. (1)|
|Diaz, S. (1)|
|Hernandez, A. 4 (23), Collins, Z. (40), Lopez, B. (21), Fieger, B. 2 (28), Carey, D. (18), Diaz, S. 2 (3)|
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Bolstered by another impressive performance from its hot-swinging bats, No. 4 Miami cruised to its sixth straight win Friday night, toppling the visiting Alabama State Hornets 11-1.
With the victory, Miami improved to 20-1 in its last 21 games, while junior lefthander Chris Diaz moved his flawless record to 8-0 this spring.
The Hurricanes (33-13) wasted little time in opening the scoring, tagging Hornets righthander TJ Renda for six runs in the bottom of the first inning. A bases-clearing triple for senior Alex Hernandez keyed the early fireworks, as Miami jumped out to a commanding lead that was never in doubt.
Diaz, who entered the matchup ranked eighth in the ACC with a 2.21 ERA, delivered another efficient outing against a talented Hornets offense. The Florida City, Fla., native struck out six batters across six innings, giving way to the Hurricane bullpen after 93 pitches.
“They dug themselves into a hole in that first inning when they were down 6-0,” head coach Jim Morris said. “I was pleased. We played really good defense, and when Diaz pitches, he finds a way to win.”
Miami has not lost a game started by Diaz, who scattered eight hits and one runs, since May 2013 – a stretch of 13 consecutive starts.
“[Alabama State] was aggressive. Today I obviously didn’t have my best stuff, but I felt like I battled and made pitches when I had to,” Diaz said. “These guys came through with the hitting. It makes my job a lot easier.”
Freshman Sebastian Diaz, who entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, connected on his career-first home run to put the finishing touches on another solid victory.
After stranding a runner to get out of a jam in the first, Diaz was spotted a 6-0 lead in the home half of the inning. The Hurricanes sent all nine batters to the plate in the frame, which opened with Miami’s first three batters reaching base. Senior Dale Carey walked and took third base on a hit-and-run executed to perfection in tandem with Tyler Palmer, and red hot Zack Collins put Miami on the board with an RBI single to left.
An error charged to Hornets third baseman Branden Castro on a hard-hit grounder from sophomore Ricky Eusebio loaded the bases, and Brandon Lopez’ RBI single put Miami ahead 2-0. Hernandez delivered the exclamation mark in the inning, crushing a 1-2 pitch from Renda (5-5) into the left-center gap to move Miami’s lead to 5-0. An RBI groundout from Brad Fieger capped Miami’s scoring at six runs.
Hernandez, who set a career high with four hits last time out against Clemson, finished the game just a home run shy of the cycle and with a career-high four RBI.
“We’re on a roll,” Hernandez said. “It’s fun to come to the ballpark every day, knowing that everyone is playing well.”
Alabama State scraped together a run in the third on an RBI single from Waldyvan Estrada, but Diaz did well to limit the damage by striking out two batters and getting a lineout to end the threat. Facing an offense that hit a collective .296 and ranked ninth in the nation at 7.2 runs per game, Diaz kept the Hornets largely off the board with another strong outing.
“They’re a good team,” Diaz said of the Hornets. “We have to be prepared to go after them and make pitches when we have to.”
Already up 6-1, Miami blew the game open with three runs in the third. An RBI double from Hernandez, an RBI single from Fieger and an RBI single from Carey gave Miami a decisive eight-run lead.
Sophomore Enrique Sosa delivered two impressive innings in relief, striking out the side in the eighth. Sam Abrams pitched a scoreless ninth to clinch the win for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field for game two of their series against Alabama State on Saturday. First pitch for the contest, slated for broadcast on WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 7 p.m.