DURHAM, N.C. – No. 5 Miami finished off a weekend sweep of No. 30 Duke at Durham Bulls Athletic Park Sunday afternoon, capturing the series finale by a final score of 4-3.
With the victory, Miami completed its fourth straight ACC road sweep of the spring – the first such stretch in program history – and extended the nation’s longest road winning streak to 15 consecutive games.
Since the conference expanded in 2005, no ACC team had ever completed four three-game road sweeps during league play prior to this weekend.
With the game tied up 3-3 in the eighth inning, sophomore Brandon Lopez connected on a go-ahead, two-out RBI single to give the visitors a 4-3 lead. Freshman closer Bryan Garcia entered in the eighth and successfully recorded his 14th save of the spring, allowing just two walks in two innings of work.
The Hurricanes (38-14, 22-5 ACC) showed some resiliency in the win, coming back from a two-run deficit in the sixth to capture their 12th one-run victory of the season.
“I think that’s something you develop as you do it,” head coach Jim Morris said about his team’s mentality. “They’re playing with confidence, they believe they’re going to come back and win if they’re down, and they believe that if they have the lead, they’re going to keep it.”
Redshirt junior lefthander Bryan Radziewski (6-2) delivered another efficient outing for the Hurricanes, tossing seven innings and surrendering just two earned runs. The Miami native struck out four batters and walked just one, guiding Miami to its 25th win in the last 27 tries.
The Blue Devils (30-21, 15-12 ACC) opened scoring in the second, tagging Radziewski for a run on an RBI single from Mike Rosenfeld. Duke designated hitter David Perkins, who singled and took two bases on a failed pick-off attempt, plated on Rosenfeld’s chopped hit over the outstretched glove of Johnny Ruiz at third.
Miami would respond, however, and an RBI single from senior Dale Carey – who connected on his career-first grand slam in Saturday’s game two victory – tied the contest up in the very next frame. Senior Brad Fieger reached on a catcher’s interference to open the inning, took second on a sacrifice bunt from freshman Jacob Heyward, and scored on Carey’s chopper that split the middle infield.
Duke loaded the bases with no outs in the home half of the third, and a two-RBI single from Aaron Cohn through the rightside gave the hosts a 3-1 advantage. Radziewski buckled down after that, however, retiring Perkins on a fielder’s choice and Rosenfeld on a foul pop-up to keep the deficit at just 3-1.
After Carey tied the game in the third, Duke righthander Michael Matuella (1-3) retired seven of the next eight Hurricanes batters he faced to keep the Blue Devils in control in the middle innings.
“He had all four pitchers working for him – he had a cutter, his fastball had some good life, and he was hitting his spots,” Lopez said. “He was tough to hit today.”
But Miami finally solved Matuella in the sixth, striking for two runs and chasing the talented righthander after 6.0 innings
Three straight doubles to open the inning tied the game at 3-3. Carey, who finished the afternoon 3-for-5, laced a 2-2 offering past Duke third baseman Jordan Betts for the first double, and scored on Palmer’s looping hit to the Blue Monster in leftfield to make it 3-2.
Freshman slugger Zack Collins came through with Miami’s third consecutive double, driving a pitch into the gap in left-center to plate Palmer standing up.
Miami would take its first lead of the game in the eighth, striking for a late run off the Blue Devils bullpen. Singles from Palmer and Willie Abreu off Duke reliever Andrew Istler put runners on the corners, and prompted a pitching change. Lopez came through with a clutch hit, lacing a single into leftfield off Robert Huber to give Miami the lead.
“I was trying to get a good pitch to hit over the plate,” Lopez said of his approach. “I swung at a bad pitch [earlier] in the at bat, so I was ready for an offspeed pitch. He threw a curveball over the plate – it was a good pitch to hit.”
Garcia allowed the leadoff runner to reach in both the eighth and ninth innings, but retired Chris Marconcini on a flyout to centerfield for the final out of the game.
“He makes it exciting, but he always gets out of it,” Morris said of his freshman closer. “He shows a lot of composure, getting out of it every time.”