State Colleges

Chris Diaz, Miami baseball cruises to win over St. John’s

A struggling Miami offense that ended April with just seven runs over three games in a series loss to Atlantic Coast Conference cellar dweller Boston College awoke in a new month.

The Hurricanes pounded out 11 hits, and sophomore left-hander Chris Diaz pitched six scoreless, one-hit innings in a 12-3 victory against St. John’s on Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

It marked the largest scoring output on the season for Miami (30-18). The previous high came March 22 in an 11-9 win against then-No. 24 Virginia Tech.

Over Diaz’s past two starts — a pair of losses to Clemson and Boston College — the Hurricanes failed to score over his eight-inning outings of one-run ball. He entered the game with the ACC’s fourth-best ERA and lowered it to 1.42. He improved to 4-4.

“It’s a lot of easier when we have a lot of runs put up on the board,” said Diaz, who allowed just three baserunners and struck out six batters. “It makes my job easier. I can go after hitters more and let my defense do work.”

With runs tough to come by, Miami welcomed third baseman Sean O’Hare’s drop of a high pop-up behind the mound in the second inning.

Of the 12 runs, five were unearned.

Two runs crossed the plate on the error, capping a two-out rally that began on Brad Fieger’s double to the left-field wall. Following Fieger’s hit, right-hander James Lomangino (1-4) lost the strike zone, walking consecutive batters to load the bases for Dale Carey.

Carey, who entered the at-bat with a .200 average, sent the second pitch into the air for a routine pop-up, but it went off the heel of O’Hare’s glove.

Miami added another two-out run — its third of five on the night — in the third on David Thompson’s two-strike blooper to left.

The Hurricanes’ entire order went to bat in the fifth, tacking on four more runs on five hits, and chasing Lomangino. Miami posted a five-run seventh inning off right-hander Joey Christopher to extend the lead to 12-1.

“Our energy was great in the dugout and it helps our hitting,” said Brandon Lopez, who went 3 for 4 with two RBI. “We’ve got to keep that up all the games of this series.”

St. John’s (20-28) picked up all three of its runs against the Miami bullpen.

Right-hander Adam Sargent surrendered an unearned run in the seventh on Frank Schwindel’s RBI single to left, and right-hander Jace Herrera gave up two runs in the eighth on two hits and an error. Eric Whaley tossed a scoreless ninth.

“It’s fun watching it because we haven’t done that many times this year,” coach Jim Morris said. “It’s a great start for that and hopefully we can continue to do that toward the end of the season. If we play our game the way we’re capable of playing that’ll take care of things.”

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