Jim Morris has seen better seasons as coach of the University of Miami baseball team. The team has a losing record in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was coming into the weekend series against St. John’s after dropping two of three to Boston College — the only two ACC wins BC has been able to get all season.
But if there is any sliver of hope that the Hurricanes can turn around an otherwise dreadful season down the final stretch, they can start by hanging their hats on their first series sweep since taking all three from Milwaukee the second weekend of the season, Feb. 22-24.
Although beating St. John’s doesn’t improve Miami’s ACC record, the Canes wrapped up their sweep of the Red Storm with a 6-4 win — the team’s sixth in a row at home — Sunday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
“It’s huge for us to be able to do that going into these last six games,” Morris said.
Those final six will be three-game sets at Wake Forest and then at home against Georgia Tech before the ACC tournament. The top eight teams qualify for the tournament, and UM currently holds that final spot.
Second baseman Alex Hernandez, who went 2 for 4 with three RBI Sunday said: “It’s something we can definitely build off of, and we started off strong this weekend, so let’s keep it going.”
In a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the seventh, the Hurricanes (32-18, 11-13 ACC) broke through with three runs on a pair of two-out, bases-loaded singles — one from Tyler Palmer and the other, which scored two, from Hernandez — to take a 6-3 lead.
The rally came amidst Hurricane struggles to drive in runners once on base. They stranded 14 Sunday.
“I thought we left some guys on base early. Late, we got some big hits,” Morris said. “For us, scoring six runs, we’ve got to win every time.”
Eric Whaley (2-1) earned the win after picking up the last out that preceded the three-run seventh as part of his 1 1/3 innings in relief of starter Andrew Suarez. Eric Nedeljkovic earned his 12th save of the season with a perfect ninth.
Suarez gave up three runs — but just one earned — in his 6 2/3 innings. He surrendered six hits while striking out three with no walks.
“I threw my changeup and curveball pretty good,” Suarez said. “My fastball, I kept it low, but in the seventh inning I got a little tired so I kept leaving it up. That’s why they got some hits.”
Five Hurricanes — Hernandez, Palmer, David Thompson, Garrett Kennedy and Ricky Eusebio — each had two hits. Kennedy reached base in all five of his plate appearances.