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17 April 2014

Canes hang on to beat FAU, 2-1

Sophomore Brandon Lopez slides to first as the FAU pitcher makes a pickoff attempt during Wednesday evening’s game.  Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor

Sophomore Brandon Lopez slides to first as the FAU pitcher makes a pickoff attempt during Wednesday evening’s game. Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor

The nation’s longest winning streak has reached 13 games.

The Hurricanes utilized a quality start from senior Javi Salas en route to a 2-1 victory over FAU, a squad Miami fell to earlier this season.

Bryan Garcia earned his ACC-leading 11th save of the season after navigating his way through a three-hit ninth inning.

Salas went six innings, giving up just four hits in his second solid start in two weeks. In his previous outing against FAU, Salas gave up three runs in six innings, two of those coming in the first, and Miami was not able to recover.

But Wednesday night, Salas was in top form, just as he was the previous Wednesday on the road at UCF, in his first start in nearly a month. Salas went five innings in his return at UCF, giving up five hits and no runs.

Salas himself was not particularly thrilled with the performance on Wednesday.

“I was battling the whole night with myself … I didn’t really have much control,” he said.

Despite that, his effort was enough for the Canes, whose only two runs were knocked in by freshman Johnny Ruiz in the bottom of the second.

“Even if he claims he didn’t have his best stuff, he looked pretty good to me,” Ruiz said.

Salas continued his positive momentum against the Owls, in control from the get go, inducing pop outs and ground balls leading to three double plays for the Hurricanes.

Wednesday night lacked in offensive firepower, but Ruiz continued his recent surge at the plate, scoring Alex Hernandez and Sebastian Diaz on a two-RBI double.

Ruiz, who went 3-for-4 on Sunday against Pittsburgh, was 1-for-2 with a walk. His average has improved nearly thirty points in the past week, a progression toward the .270 mark that would be invaluable in the bottom half of the Miami lineup.

Freshman Zack Collins, who came into the game batting .339 over his past 15 games, also went 1-for-2, improving his season average to .250. The improvement seen from Collins since his lackluster start is not lost on coach Jim Morris, but he has also been impressed with Collins’ play behind the plate at catcher.

‘It’s the toughest position on the field to play. You’ve got to be ready every single pitch,” Morris said. “He’s catching more and more, he’s getting better; he’s just got to concentrate, and I think he’s doing a good job.”

Miami’s 13-game winning streak is even more encouraging considering that the brunt of the ACC schedule is behind them.

Challenging series still remain on the road at Clemson and at home against UNC, but they remain less daunting in comparison to previous series against Virginia and N.C. State. Florida State this season was a nonconference series, as the ACC did not originally schedule the two teams to play.

Miami has Thursday off before taking on ACC newcomer Notre Dame this weekend. The Irish have struggled in their first season in the conference, holding just a 3-15 mark in ACC play.

All three games in the series (Saturday-Monday) will start at 7 p.m. and can be heard on WVUM 90.5 FM. Monday’s series finale against the Irish will also be broadcast on ESPNU.