The Miami Hurricanes had two unlikely heroes in Wednesday night’s 6-4 win over visiting Florida Atlantic.
One was Javi Salas who was tagged for six hits and four runs in the second and third innings combined.
“We didn’t have anyone warming up [to replace Salas],” Canes coach Jim Morris said, “but I was thinking about it.”
The other unlikely hero was No. 9 hitter Brandon Lopez, the Canes’ freshman shortstop who entered the game hitting just .224 with four RBI in 40 games.
After his rocky start, Salas turned it around and retired the final 18 batters he faced, including seven on ground balls to second baseman Alex Hernandez and four on strikeouts.
Lopez delivered three hits and drove in three runs, including two RBI in the seventh when Miami snapped a 4-4 tie. On the key play, Lopez grounded a single into left field.
“I got a fastball, and it was a hard thrower,” Lopez said, “so I tried to keep a short approach.”
The first run on that play scored easily, but Dale Carey, who was at second, appeared like he might get thrown out at the plate. That’s when Carey dove and touched the back end of the plate with his left hand.
“Our scouting report said their left fielder doesn’t throw very [well],” said Morris, who doubles as the third-base coach. “[Carey] is our fastest guy, and I have a tendency to wave guys — I’m very aggressive. He got under the tag, but it was a close play.”
From there, Canes closer Eric Nedeljkovic (0.83 ERA) earned his 10th save with a perfect ninth. Salas improved to 5-4 with an eight-inning performance in which he allowed just one walk and the aforementioned six hits and four runs.
“I wasn’t locating my pitches [early],” Salas said. “When I came into the dugout after the third inning, I told myself that was all they were going to get, and I kept repeating that to myself.”
The Canes (28-16) took the three-game season series from FAU (26-15). The teams had split the two previous matchups, with each school winning on the road.
UM has won seven of its past nine games and plays at Boston College this weekend. The Eagles are — by far — the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 0-20 record within conference play.