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23 March 2014

Miami scorches No. 3 Virginia with 7-1 win

Jim Morris’s 900th win at Miami was a memorable one.

The Canes put together their most complete game on both sides of the ball, stunning No. 3 Virginia in a 7-1 upset on Saturday.

Freshman Zack Collins had the go-ahead score, a two-run homer in the sixth inning that broke a 1-1 tie.

“It’s an amazing feeling every time you hit a home run. For a guy to be out there pitching his butt off trying to win this game – he’s out there for six innings and we haven’t scored a run. To pick him up like that, it felt amazing,” said Collins, who took pride in being able to give run support to starting pitcher Chris Diaz.

Diaz went head to head with the Nathan Kirby, Virginia’s premier lefthander on the mound.

Kirby was 5-0 this season with a near-perfect 0.59 ERA before Saturday.

Miami handed him his first loss, and Diaz improved to 5-0 himself in the process. He lasted 7.1 innings, allowed five hits and a single run.

“In the bullpen, I felt all my pitches were working,” Diaz said. “I went into the game confident that I could throw every pitch for a strike, and that’s what happened tonight.”

His skipper praised the solid all-around performance that backed Diaz up.

“I thought it was a complete team effort,” Morris said. “Our team played exceptional defense, we got really good pitching, and of course we scored some runs.”

Morris was not overstating the Canes’ performance in the field. The defensive highlight came in the eighth inning when Virginia had a scoring opportunity.

Centerfielder Dale Carey made the catch of a lifetime on a full sprint toward the outfield wall, which saved two runs and landed the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.

“I just remember he hit it, I was running, and at the last second I realized I had a chance,” Carey said. “Me and Willie [Abreu] were both going into the gap at the same time, I called ‘ball’ and I laid out.”

Morris summed it up well.

“That catch might be the best catch I have ever seen. That was huge. If that ball drops, the game is tied,” he said.

The win moved Miami to 13-10 (5-2 ACC) this season, while the Cavaliers fell to 17-4 (5-2 ACC).

Having lost five of their previous seven games, the Hurricanes are barely holding on to a spot in the polls.

Miami came into the series with Virginia at No. 25 in the nation.

Sunday’s matchup featured junior lefty Bryan Radziewski on the mound.