The University of Miami baseball team continues to win, win big and win at the right time of the year.
With David Thompson’s three-home run, nine-RBI performance pacing an offense that exploded once again and senior left-hander Andy Suarez proving masterful in his final regular-season start as a Hurricane, UM defeated Georgia Tech 22-1 on a night when its seniors were honored before the game on Friday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
The Canes, who are ranked as high as No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball, extended their win streak to 11 games after the second game of the final three-game set of the regular season. They have beaten their opponents by a mammoth combined score of 153-17 during the streak.
UM (41-13, 21-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) is playing its best baseball with the regular-season finale on the horizon Saturday, postseason play beginning next week and the Canes making a case for a national seed.
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“We need to have a solid performance our last outing here at home, go to the ACC tournament and play well, and then I think we have an argument [to host] a regional and a Super Regional if we win,” said UM coach Jim Morris, whose team had 21 hits on Friday.
The offense, which leads the nation in on-base percentage, gave UM a lift from the start, with the Hurricanes hitting for the cycle as a team in the first inning.
Ricky Eusebio doubled, Christopher Barr singled, Zack Collins tripled both of them home and Thompson wrapped up the four-run opening frame with a two-run homer to left-center. It was the first time the Canes hit for a cycle in an inning since 2009.
Thompson, the junior corner infielder out of Westminster Christian, wasn’t nearly done. In the fifth, he homered for the second time on a bullet line drive to left field that left the park in a hurry for another two-run shot. As if that wasn’t enough, he belted a grand slam in the seventh with the game already well out of reach.
With a 4-for-6 night, Thompson became the first Hurricane to hit three home runs in a game since 2010 and the first to drive in nine runs since 1993. He added to his ACC lead in home runs (18) and national lead in RBI (77).
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Thompson, who earlier Friday was named a finalist for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy. “It was fun to come up with guys on base like that every time I was up to bat today and put some good swings on the ball.”
A comfortable 14-1 lead over the Yellow Jackets (32-21, 13-16) after six allowed Morris to remove Suarez (7-1) from the game to preserve him for the true tests coming up in the ACC tournament and then at the regionals.
Suarez, who had a tough act to follow after Thomas Woodrey’s one-hit shutout on Thursday, struck out six and surrendered one run on four hits in six innings.
“Georgia Tech’s always a good hitting team, so I knew I had to pitch well,” Suarez said. “I’m glad that my offense came back, and we hit.”
Collins, with his two-run triple and a hit batsman with the bases loaded, drove in three runs and now has 32 RBI during the winning streak.
Brandon Lopez and Jacob Heyward combined to go 5 for 9 with six runs scored and three RBI in the eight and nine holes in the order. Johnny Ruiz came off the bench to go 3 for 4 with two RBI.
A six-run third inning boosted the Canes’ lead to 11-0. That inning was only to be outdone by the seven-run seventh that included Thompson’s grand slam.
UM finished with 21 hits. Georgia Tech (32-21, 13-16 ACC) could muster just four — all off Suarez as the Hurricane bullpen was perfect the final three frames.