Welcome back to the weekends, Bryan Radziewski.
The junior left-hander, who was the Hurricanes’ ace as a freshman before needing shoulder surgery five starts into last season, pitched one of the most dominant games in Miami’s rich history Saturday night in a 2-0 victory over No. 24 Virginia Tech.
Radziewski struck out a career-high 16 batters, the most strikeouts registered by a Canes pitcher since Joe Grahe had 18 in 1989.
“He told me [before the game] that his changeup was working, and when he said that, I knew,” Canes catcher Garrett Kennedy said of Radziewski. “His slider is always on, his curveball, his fastball. But when he said he had his change, I knew [Virginia Tech] was going to be in for it.”
Radziewski allowed just two hits — including a double on the first pitch he threw — and no walks. He threw 120 pitches over nine innings, and his strikeouts tied Jim Muelhausen in 1969 for sixth-best in UM history. It is also the most strikeouts for a UM pitcher against an Atlantic Coast Conference school.
“Thanks to [UM coach Jim Morris] for letting me come back out for the ninth,” said Radziewski, who is 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA. “Usually when you have 100 pitches, they don’t let you [pitch]. But I asked for it, and I got it.”
Radziewski had a stretch of 19 consecutive batters retired, including Andrew Rash, who drove an eighth-inning pitch to the warning track in left, where it was caught by Ricky Eusebio. The next batter hit a single to break the string.
The Canes (19-7, 4-4 ACC) got their first run in the fifth when Kennedy hit his first double of the season and freshman first baseman Chris Barr drove him in with his first collegiate triple. Barr’s drive landed over the head of right fielder Gary Schneider, who made a diving try and nearly caught the ball. Barr had fallen behind in the count, 0-2, and took a couple of close pitches before connecting.
“We didn’t want to spoil his great outing,” Kennedy said of finally getting a run.
The Canes added an insurance run in the seventh when Dale Carey scored from third on an error by first baseman Sean Keselica.
Radziewski, who struck out everyone in the Virginia Tech lineup, did not dent the radar gun faster than 88 mph, but he was changing speeds effectively. He went to three balls on just six batters and most of his pitches were between 75 and 85 mph.
He shut down a Virginia Tech offense that entered the weekend with the fourth-best batting average in the ACC (.305) and the most homers (21). Virginia Tech (17-7, 4-4) is also ranked nationally for the first time since 2010.
Radziewski outdueled Virginia Tech starter Devin Burke, a junior who entered the game with a 5-0 record and a 2.43 ERA. Burke, who was throwing up to 92 mph, allowed just six hits and two runs, one of them earned, in seven innings.
The series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m. UM’s Andrew Suarez (2-1, 2.73 ERA) will match up against fellow left-hander Joe Mantiply (1-0, 5.40).
• The Canes’ weekend rotation is now comprised of all left-handers, and all of them are from Miami private schools: Chris Diaz (Gulliver), Radziewski (Florida Christian) and Suarez (Columbus).
Freshman David Thompson, who leads the team in RBI with 21, sat out for the third time in four games. Morris said Thompson’s shoulder is fine.
Eusebio started in center field for the slumping Carey, who entered the game as a pinch-runner.