The Miami Hurricanes baseball team continued its home dominance with a weekend sweep of the Duke Blue Devils at Mark Light Field – their fourth straight ACC series win.
While the Canes edged the Blue Devils by a one-run margin in their first two games, on Sunday, Miami’s double-digit scoring during a shutout victory made a statement. With support from junior starting pitcher Enrique Sosa, the Hurricanes defeated Duke 10-0.
The Canes have lost only two games at Mark Light Field this season, with a home record of 17-2. Meanwhile, Duke (19-13, 4-11 ACC) extended its losing streak to seven games.
Quality starting pitching was key for the Hurricanes (24-9, 11-4 ACC) this weekend. Sosa, who has struggled as of late and entered Sunday’s game with a 5.14 earned run average (ERA), pitched 6.1 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit.
“The pitcher sets the tone of the game always,” Coach Jim Morris said. “He pitched very well today, and it’s great to see him get back in the groove.”
Sosa said his approach was to throw strikes and get ahead early.
“Today I just tried to hit my spots, and the defense was really good behind me, so that helps a lot,” the right-hander said.
Morris stressed how important it is to have a good Sunday pitching start and sweep a series with three wins. After all, three wins is what it takes to reach the ACC finals, and to make it to super regionals and the College World Series, he said.
Senior Garrett Kennedy has continued to prove why he deserves a top spot in the lineup. Leading Miami starters with a .378 batting average, he was moved to the No. 2 hitting spot for the first time Saturday and remained there Sunday.
“We put him in that [second] spot and he really responded,” Morris said. “He’s hot right now, and we have to take advantage of that, get him on base and score some runs.”
Kennedy said he’s enjoying the change in the batting order, and his performance has been all about exuding confidence while at bat.
“You have confidence up there. You’re able to put good swings on pitches. Hitting is all about confidence in my mind,” he said.
Kennedy, who’s been flip-flopping with sophomore Zack Collins between catcher and designated hitter, opened up Miami’s scoring Sunday when he walked up to bat with the bases load in the third inning and hit an RBI single. He went 3-for-4 in the game and also hit his first career triple.
Kennedy’s two-RBI single in the seventh inning Friday also let the Canes take and hold their lead. He tied a career-high with three RBIs that game.
Since returning from his injury, redshirt junior and left-handed pitcher Andy Suarez has been bumped to No. 2 in the weekend rotation, but Suarez (3-0) made a stellar Saturday night start. He had a career-high 12 strikeouts across the eight innings that he pitched in the Canes’ 3-2 victory over Duke.
Suarez, who dropped his ERA down to 2.00, threw 105 pitches and allowed no earned runs. A Miami error in the third inning plated two Blue Devils who scored Duke’s only two runs in that game.
Collins’ solo home run in the sixth inning put the Hurricanes ahead 3-2.
Sophomore Bryan Garcia came in to close it out in the ninth, earning his seventh save of the season. His sixth came the previous night during the four-hour long series opener.
During Friday’s 4-3 win over Duke, junior third baseman David Thompson extended his hitting streak to 20, making him just the eighth Hurricane ever to record such a streak. Though he ultimately snapped it Saturday, Thompson returned with a three-run homer in the sixth inning Sunday.
This weekend, the Canes baseball program also introduced a new tradition – the milkshake race. The shake race features three mascots of Mark Light milkshake favorites: the Wizard, JayRo and Omaha Express.
The Hurricanes will play Florida Atlantic University at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Mark Light Field and remain at home for a weekend series against ACC opponent Virginia Tech.