Miami (Fla.) comes back in eighth, takes series from Notre Dame
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami scored four runs in the eighth to take a late 6-3 lead against Notre Dame, and held on in the ninth for a series-clinching victory against the Fighting Irish on Monday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
The win gave No. 19 Miami its fourth consecutive ACC series win, as the Hurricanes moved into a tie with No. 1 Virginia and No. 5 Florida State for the best record in the conference.
Though the nation's longest winning streak was snapped in Sunday night's 7-4 defeat, the Hurricanes rebounded to capture another ACC series and their 15th overall win in the past 16 tries.
"It's a big win for us," Jim Morris said. "To win the series is huge. Their [pitcher] was really good ... he's one of the best pitchers we have faced. It was a great team effort to come back there in the eighth after we gave up a couple of runs."
A clutch RBI triple from senior Tyler Palmer tied the game in the eighth, while a sacrifice fly from freshman Zack Collins -- who finished the series with seven hits in 12 at bats -- sent Miami to the late lead. Notre Dame reliever Donnie Hissa struggled with control in relief of starter Pat Connaughton (1-3), issuing three walks and forcing in two runs in just one-third of an inning to prolong Miami's rally.
Morris said the decision to send Palmer from third on Collins' shallow flyout was not an easy one.
"Their scouting report said to try and run on their outfielders," Morris said. "We had the right guy at third who can run ... that's probably the closest I've ever had a guy tag [from] before."
Freshman righthander Bryan Garcia (4-2), who entered in the eighth with his team trailing 3-2, retired the Irish in order in the ninth to clinch the series. Palmer's hit helped shift momentum on a night when the Hurricanes were struggling to generate much offense against Connaughton.
"He got ahead 0-2 -- I missed two fastballs -- then he missed away with a fastball," Palmer said of his at bat. "I didn't think he would throw a breaking ball with that pitch because he blew me away with two fastballs. He left [a fastball] over the plate, and I got a good pitch to drive."
Senior Dale Carey, who was issued a one-out walk by Connaughton in the eighth, scored easily on the play. Collins came through with the go-ahead sacrifice fly, and Hissa tossed bases-loaded walks to sophomores Garrett Kennedy and Edgar Michelangeli to send Miami to a late three-run advantage.
"We had a couple chances early on in the game to put them away," Palmer said. "When they responded, we had to respond as well, and that's exactly what we did."
The Hurricanes (27-13, 16-5 ACC) took their first lead of the night in the fourth, when Miami's freshmen duo of Collins and Willie Abreu combined for back-to-back hits to score two runs. An RBI double from Collins into the rightfield corner scored Carey to tie the game 1-1, and an RBI single to rightfield from Abreu made it 2-1 in favor of the Hurricanes.
Carey led off the inning with a bunt single -- Miami's first hit off Connaughton -- and took second on a groundout from Palmer.
Collins, who set a career high with four hits Sunday night, continued his hot streak by roping one past the outstretched glove of Notre Dame first baseman Blaise Lezynski for extra bases. The hit drove in the speedy Carey from second, marking Collins' team-high 31st RBI of the spring. Abreu then cranked a 2-0 pitch through the rightside to plate a sliding Collins for the 2-1 lead.
After surrendering a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, Miami lefthander Bryan Radziewski managed to keep Notre Dame off the board until the seventh -- when a two-RBI single from Mac Hudgins saw Notre Dame (16-23, 4-17 ACC) regain a 3-2 advantage.
With runners on the corners and just one out in the inning, Radziewski looked like he might work his way out of a jam by fielding Conor Biggio's soft chopper and getting Kevin DeFilippis on a nice throw home for the second out of the inning. But after a wild pitch advanced both remaining runners into scoring position, Radziewski yielded a single to Hudgins through the rightside that scored both runners.
Despite issuing five walks, Radziewski kept Notre Dame largely off-balance, surrendering just four hits and three earned runs. His nine strikeouts were the second most of any start this spring and just one shy of his season high.
Facing a one-run deficit in the eighth, the Hurricanes responded by batting around -- sending 10 batters to the plate -- and scoring four runs to regain the lead.
"We don't give up," Palmer said. "We know we have the sticks to come back at any time."