The University of Miami ended Bethune-Cookman University’s South Florida victory tour Wednesday night with a 6-1 win — though until the eighth inning, it seemed painfully difficult for the Canes to convert baserunners into scorers.
The Wildcats (23-19) came into Alex Rodriguez Park having beaten UM previously there on April 3, and having defeated FIU in Miami twice this season, including Tuesday.
But the Canes (25-15) — again led by strong starting pitching — decisively put that streak to rest in the eighth, scoring three runs on a walk and four hits (of 11 total), including one of Alex San Juan’s career-best four hits.
San Juan, a senior catcher who was the designated hitter Wednesday, laced a double and three singles for two RBI.
“I was seeing the ball well,” San Juan said. “I was ahead in the count most of the time so I took more pitches than I have been the last couple games. It worked out in my favor — better counts and batter at-bats led to a better game.”
UM excelled on the mound as well, with right-handed junior Javi Salas (4-4, 3.14 ERA) earning his second consecutive victory after a complete game last week against Stetson. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out four.
“I feel pretty good with our [starting] pitching when you’re up two or three runs,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “That’s been our strength, no question. Those guys have done a good job of giving us a chance to win every game just about.”
Eric Whaley came in to relieve in the eighth, and AJ Salcines closed out the ninth.
Entering Wednesday, three of UM’s starters (Bryan Radziewski, Chris Diaz and Salas) ranked in the top 21 in ERA among Atlantic Coast Conference pitchers. Top-ranked North Carolina also had three.
The Hurricanes scored a run in the third, two in the fourth and another in the eighth, but left 13 runners stranded — including bases loaded in the seventh with one out. Bethune-Cookman walked six batters and hit four.
The only other time the Canes filled the bases, in the fourth, reliever Michael Austin walked David Thompson to make it 3-1. Tyler Palmer’s sacrifice fly earlier in that inning gave UM the 2-1 lead.
The Canes opened the scoring in the third on an RBI double by San Juan, who drove home Alex Hernandez (walk).
“It was a good win for us,” Morris said. “We played solid defense, got good pitching and we got a lot of hits. That’s a good combination.
“Those Wednesday games sometimes are tough, whoever it may be.”