UM baseball 5, Duke 3

Inspired Miami Hurricanes baseball team take series finale against Duke

 

A strong outing by sophomore Andrew Suarez gave the Canes their first ACC victory of the season.

Special to The Miami Herald

Two losses to a team they have always dominated, one bloody nose and some bruised feelings — the University of Miami baseball team suffered substantially this weekend.

But Jim Larranaga, coach of the Canes’ Atlantic Coast Conference champion men’s basketball team, threw out the first pitch Sunday, and perhaps that changed the mojo.

Regardless, the Canes defeated Duke 5-3 on Sunday afternoon to salvage the last of the three-game series against a school that entered the weekend 5-25 all-time against Miami.

With the win, the Canes improved to 13-4 overall, 1-2 in the ACC. Duke fell to 8-7, 2-1.

The aforementioned bloodied nose belongs to third baseman Brad Fieger, who was eaten up by a bad hop on a batted ball in Saturday’s game.

To his credit, though, Fieger did not miss a start.

“He told me he was coming right back,” Canes coach Jim Morris said of Fieger, who also sustained a swollen upper lip. “That’s at least the second time he’s been hit this year. He also got hit above the eye.

“I told him he’s going to have to start wearing a mask out there.”

Fieger’s toughness served as inspiration, but perhaps the biggest single factor in the win was the pitching of Andrew Suarez, a sophomore left-hander from Miami Columbus.

Suarez allowed six hits, two runs and just one walk in a career-high seven innings. One of the runs was unearned as he improved to 2-1 and lowered his ERA from 4.26 to 3.20.

It was a bounce-back game for Suarez, who had gotten roughed up by the University of Florida last week.

“I came into the [Duke] game more relaxed and more loose with my arm,” Suarez said. “[Against Florida], I was trying to muscle up on everything, just trying to throw hard. On the bus, I realized I’m not that type of pitcher.”

Suarez got support from various Canes on Sunday, including Chantz Mack, whose two-run single to right field in the third inning gave Miami its first lead of the series at 2-1.

Alex San Juan and Alex Hernandez also got run-scoring singles, and Mack added a sacrifice fly.

Defensively, center fielder Dale Carey started a double play by catching a fly ball in shallow center field and throwing out a runner at the plate to end the third inning.

Suarez left with a 5-2 lead, pulled in favor of A.J. Salcines. But Duke got one run back on an eighth-inning home run to center by Jordan Betts.

Salcines, who started the season as the closer but has lost that role — at least in certain situations — because of his 8.00 ERA.

Instead of Salcines, Eric Nedeljkovich was given the opportunity to nail down his first save of the season — and he did just that, with the help of a diving snag of a ground ball by Hernandez at second base.

Had that ball gone through, Duke would have had runners on the corners with no outs.

Next up for the Canes are home games Tuesday and Wednesday against Illinois State (5-7).

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

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