University of Miami pitcher Chris Diaz hadn’t lost a game he started since May 24, 2013 — a stretch of 10 consecutive starts.
The Hurricanes hadn’t lost since March 24 — a nation-leading 13 consecutive wins.
The program Hurricanes fans love to hate almost ended the fun for both Saturday night at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Trailing 2-1, the Canes scored two runs in the ninth on an RBI-triple by freshman Zack Collins and walk-off sacrifice fly by Brad Fieger to defeat Notre Dame 3-2 and extend the streak to 14 victories.
“Another one of those, ‘Wows!’ ” UM coach Jim Morris said. “Great ending.”
Or, in the Twitter words of Hurricane Javi Salas, a pitcher who had his own excitement earlier this season when he hurled a perfect game: “#CardiacCanes strike again … 14!!!”
With the comeback, witnessed by 3,694 mostly jubilant fans, the Canes tied their previous longest streak from 2008.
Diaz, who reached his longest outing in terms of pitches (108) after eight innings, allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out two. His replacement, sophomore Thomas Woodrey (2-0), retired the side in the ninth to earn the victory.
With the win, Miami (27-12, 15-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) remains a half game behind top-ranked Virginia (33-6, 16-4) in the league standings. The Cavaliers beat North Carolina on Saturday.
UM took a 1-0 lead in the third on a standup double by Brandon Lopez and an RBI single by Dale Carey. The Irish answered in the fifth on a two-RBI double down the right-field line by Kyle Fiala.
After Woodrey held the Irish in the ninth, UM’s Willie Abreu led off the bottom of the inning with a routine grounder that turned into a throwing error by the shortstop. With pinch-runner John Lawroski on second, fellow freshman Collins crushed the ball deep into right-center. It appeared to be a home run, until it bounced against the wall between two Notre Dame outfielders and ended up as a triple.
“I was just trying to drive it deep in the outfield, just trying to move the runner,” Collins said. “It was a tough game. Chris pitched awesome and we played hard but didn’t swing the bat as well as we could. We battled it out just like we have this whole season.”
Ricky Eusebio was sent in to pinch run for Collins, and Fieger followed with the game-winning sacrifice fly to right field.
“I knew the speed of Ricky on third base and knew I just had to get the good part of the bat on it,” Fieger said. “I was just looking to drive something in the outfield. It happened to be deep enough. It feels great. It’s important for us to win that game in the ACC.”
The Hurricanes already have surpassed their ACC win total of 14 in 2013, with 11 conference games remaining. They are now 9-1 in one-run games this season.
“A big win for us,” Morris said. “It’s great to be winning, that’s all I know. To be able to continue the streak is great. … Good teams win close games, and we’ve won a lot of close games with big hits late.”
Notre Dame, buoyed by a strong pitching performance by Sean Fitzgerald, fell to 15-22 and 3-16. Fitzgerald went the distance in allowing three runs — two earned — on five hits and one walk. He struck out five.
All was not rosy for the Canes, as third baseman Johnny Ruiz dislocated his right shoulder in the eighth inning and had to be replaced by Edgar Michelangeli.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Sunday.