After being stunned 17-6 on Tuesday, the University of Miami came out swinging to defeat Illinois State 9-2 in a rematch Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park.
“It was a good game for us,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “I think this team just keeps getting better. This is probably the hardest working team I have ever coached.”
The Canes (14-5) jumped on the board early, capitalizing on wild pitching by Redbirds pitcher JD Learnard, who gave up three runs off of four walks, two hits and one wild pitch in the first inning.
Junior Bryan Radziewski made his third start of the year after season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012.
The 5-10, 195-pound left-hander out of Florida Christian struck out five batters and gave up only one run on four hits through a season-high five innings.
“I feel stronger than last time,” said Radziewski, who is trying to work his way back into the starting rotation. “My arm got tired but you got to work through it.”
Radziewski, who had trouble hitting his spots, said having a solid defense has helped him on his comeback road.
“Over the fall we practiced very hard on defense and it shows,” Radziewski said.
“We are not afraid to throw strikes. They can hit the ball and we can trust that our defense will get it.”
The UM defense, boasting a .972 fielding percentage, held Illinois State (6-8) to one run through six innings until Redbirds senior outfielder Eric Aguillera blasted a double off the right field wall to put runners on second and third.
The Redbirds squeezed in one run before left-hander Thomas Woodrey relieved Frank Grandinette to get out of the inning.
But the Canes would respond big.
Freshman left fielder Chris Barr, who went 3 for 4, led off the inning with his first career double. An error and a walk loaded the bases for junior third baseman Brad Fieger, who roped a base-clearing double — his second of the night — to put the Canes up 7-2.
“I saw the ball well today and was able to put good swings on the ball,” said Fieger, who had a career-high five RBI on three doubles.
Barr and Fieger combined for half of the team’s 12 hits. The two are going to need to keep up the hot hitting as they head into their first road trip out of Florida when they meet No. 1 North Carolina (16-0) this weekend.
“The No. 1 thing we can do as a team this weekend is to hit good pitches,” Fieger said. “I think if we just swing at strikes we will have a very good weekend.”
Although the Canes posted a season high nine runs, they also left 10 runners on base.
“We can’t do that against UNC this weekend,” Morris said. “They need to understand that we need to go into this weekend and get it done.”
Fieger sealed the game with his third RBI double in the bottom of the eighth for the final score of 9-2.
The Canes will take on the Tar Heels in a three-game series starting Friday. It will be aired on ESPN3.