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Suarez Tosses Series-Clinching Gem vs. Duke for Miami Baseball

Richard Lewis/Miami Athletics

Miami improved to 23-9 on the season tonight,  with a 3-2 victory over Duke.

The series closes out tomorrow at 1 PM at Mark Light Stadium.

Story Courtesy UM

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Left hander Andrew Suarez delivered a sparkling performance on the mound, sending Miami to its fourth straight ACC series win and a 3-2 victory over Duke Saturday night at Mark Light Field.

Coming off a disappointing outing last time out against North Carolina, the redshirt junior rebounded with his best start of the season against the Blue Devils. The southpaw struck out a career high 12 batters in eight innings - his deepest outing of the spring - and improved his record to 3-0 with a signature performance.

Suarez struck out the side looking in his final inning of work, getting Duke first baseman Justin Bellinger on his 105th and final pitch of the night.

"I had a feel for all my pitches," Suarez said about his standout performance. "They were pretty aggressive, and I threw my slider and my curveball a lot."

Head coach Jim Morris called Suarez' performance "outstanding."

Sophomore Zack Collins gave Miami the lead in the sixth, cranking a solo home run to left field off Duke righthander Andrew Istler to put Miami ahead 3-2. It was the fourth home run of the season for Collins, who was named Baseball America National Freshman of the Year in 2014.

Suarez worked through the eighth inning before giving way in the ninth to sophomore closer Bryan Garcia, who earned his second save in as many nights despite allowing two runners to reach base.

The save was his seventh of the season and 22nd of his career – the sixth-most in UM history.

“He proved what he can do last year,” Morris said. “He’s the guy that we want in that situation...he has a lot of mental toughness to be able to handle that situation. I trust him to get it done.”

Duke (19-12, 4-10 ACC) took the lead with two runs in the third inning on a bunt single from Mike Rosenfeld that was mishandled by the Miami infield. In an effort to get Rosenfeld at first, David Thompson’s throw sailed wide of Christopher Barr’s glove, plating both Andy Perez and Max Miller to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Suarez retired the next two batters consecutively, however, getting Peter Zyla on a groundout and Cris Perez on a strikeout to limit the damage to just two runs.

Perez reached on an error by junior George Iskenderian, which led to two unearned runs charged to Suarez.

“We had the one inning where we made two errors, but the rest of the game was played very well defensively by both clubs,” Morris said. “They took advantage of the mistakes we made there and got their two runs.”

Istler (2-2) kept Miami off balance early, allowing just two hits through his first four innings. The Hurricanes (23-9, 10-4 ACC) solved the righthander in the middle innings, plating two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth.

“They’ve got a good club. Istler threw well against us. Give him credit – he’s their ace now. He’s a guy that’s going to be tough,” Morris said.

A two-out Miami rally in the fifth was capped by a two-RBI single from senior catcher Garrett Kennedy, who has been one of the Hurricanes’ top hitters of late.

Freshman Carl Chester opened the rally with a walk, sophomore Ricky Eusebio cracked a double down the leftfield line, and Kennedy – hitting in the No. 2 hole for the first time this season – went opposite field for a single to plate the speedy duo.

“He’s doing a great job swinging the bat,” Morris said of Kennedy. “We put him in that [second] spot and he really responded. He’s hot right now, and we have to take advantage of that, get him on base and score some runs.”

Collins said a pregame talk with hitting coach Gino DiMare helped lead to his towering opposite field home run.

“He threw a fastball on the first pitch for a ball, and I was sitting on the changeup,” Collins said. “I just put the barrel on it.”

The win improved Miami’s home record to 16-2.

“I think we battled hard the whole game and did some good things,” Morris said. “Hopefully we can keep getting better.”

The Hurricanes return to Mark Light Field Sunday for their series finale with the Blue Devils. First pitch for the game, slated for broadcast on WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 1 p.m.