A few minutes before 3 p.m. Sunday, Miami Hurricanes closer, Bryan Garcia’s 2-2 pitch to Pittsburgh catcher Manny Pazos gently hit the outside corner for strike three. It was the final out of a three-game sweep that stretched the Canes’ winning streak to 12.
It was Garcia’s 10th save of the season, which ties him for the ACC lead. In the first weekend series against Pittsburgh since 2009, Miami featured dominant pitching performances all around.
Chris Diaz picked up his sixth win of the season on Friday in a 12-2 Canes win, tossing six innings of a two-run ball and tying a career high with 10 strikeouts.
Diaz is still undefeated on the year at 6-0. Dale Carey racked up a big night, going 3-5 with an RBI. Tyler Palmer, Willie Abreu and Brad Fieger each drove in a pair of runs in the highest-scoring performance in the history of the Miami-Pittsburgh series.
The most exciting game of the series came on Saturday night, as Andrew Suarez and Pittsburgh’s Joseph Harvey engaged in a tight pitchers’ duel.
Suarez pitched the game of his life, throwing nine shutout innings with nine strikeouts while only walking one. Unfortunately, the Canes just couldn’t get the one run Suarez needed for the win – they were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position through nine innings.
Zack Collins nearly cranked the first pitch of the ninth inning into the Ponce de Leon parking garage in right field, but the strong winds blowing right to left took hold of the long ball and turned it into a flyout.
In the bottom of the 10th, with the Canes and Panthers still in a scoreless tie, third baseman Johnny Ruiz slapped a one-out double down the left field line.
John Larowski pinch-ran for Ruiz and centerfielder Carey was intentionally walked. Palmer grounded out to second as the runners took off. Finally, Abreu stepped up with runners at second and third and two out.
On an 0-2 pitch, the freshman hit a slow grounder to short and took off down the line. As the throw to first was on the way, Abreu spread his arms out dived down into first base like a hawk that found its prey. Umpire Jack Cox called Abreu safe and the Miami dugout erupted and poured out on the field as Larowski crossed the plate.
It was the Canes first walk-off win of the year in an instant classic: 1-0 in 10 innings.
“It’s something that you dream about, but you never really think is gonna happen ‘til you’re in the moment,” Abreu said.
Hurricanes coach Jim Morris was just as excited as some of his freshman players.
“Well, it’s one of those wild games,” Morris said. “I’m jumping up and down at the end of the game cause it’s just such an exciting game.”
Ruiz came through in a big way during the series. In Sunday’s 7-2 win to cap the sweep, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI, including a two-run double in the eighth with the bases loaded to extend up the lead.
“He [Ruiz] had a big day. He was our player of the game today,” Morris said. “[He had] his first three-hit game and is playing solid at third base.”
The Canes ultimately scored four in the eighth to blow it open on Sunday.
Bryan Radziewski pitched 6.2 innings of one-hit ball and struck out eight. He improved to 3-2 with the win.
Radziewski credits pitching coach J.D. Arteaga with helping him get back on track in a season where he hasn’t pitched up to the standard he set last year.
“J.D. and I sat down and he just said some things, we worked on … mental things and different grips and it’s just been working out,” the junior said.
With the sweep of Pittsburgh, Miami improves to 25-12 and 14-4 in ACC play, tied for their second-best ACC start ever (2010 and 2011).
The Hurricanes will take on the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Mark Light Field.
Florida Atlantic beat the Canes in Coral Gables on Feb. 19, 5-2.