CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Chris Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes waited nearly nine months to get the 2013 baseball season started.
Having to wait an additional 17 hours courtesy of a postponement due to rain?
Diaz, a sophomore lefthander making just his third career start for the Hurricanes, went six strong innings giving up only an unearned run, while striking out five and walking one before handing the ball over to the Miami bullpen with the Hurricanes ahead 3-1.
In his longest outing wearing orange and green, the Gulliver Prep product, Diaz faced 22 batters, throwing 84 pitches with 50 going for strikes. Diaz scattered five hits through four different innings, never having more than two base runners on at the same time and not seeing any Rutgers player standing on third.
“I was happy with my start. I put my team in a position to win,” Diaz said.
Between the third and fifth innings Diaz went seven batters without allowing a hit or walk before walking senior first baseman Bill Hoermann on a 3-1 count. Diaz was disappointed he allowed the free pas.
“One walk. I shouldn’t have walked that guy. I should have gone after him," he said.
The seven-batter streak included Diaz retiring five straight hitters after Rutgers sophomore leftfielder Vinny Zarrillo led off the third with a hit that ricocheted off Diaz’ leg.
Diaz struggled getting ahead in the count early in the game, throwing first pitch balls to the first four batters he faced, before throwing first pitch strikes to five of the next six Rutgers hitters.
In the first inning after getting leadoff hitter and junior shortstop Pat Sweeney to fly out to deep left, Diaz gave up back-to-back hits, although no Scarlet Knight runner was on base either time. The following batter, junior second baseman Nick Favatella hit a ball sharp to right field for a single.
“I felt great," Diaz said. "The first two innings I was falling behind guys, but then I found (my control) later in the game."
Diaz held the Scarlet Knights top four hitters in check, allowing only two hits to the quadruplet of Sweeney, Favatella O’Grady, and Melillo.
“They’re good," Diaz said. "It’s just important to get ahead of guys. Whenever you can do that it’s easier.”
Diaz, who was “really excited” about starting Opening Day, got the nod following expected starter Eric Whaley feeling tightness in his right throwing arm. Diaz says he couldn’t wait to get the season started.
“When I found out that I was going to be the Friday guy, I was just anxious for Opening Day already.”
Diaz knows that in order to have the season he wants he needs to stay aggressive.
“Getting ahead of guys early. Not waiting until the third inning or fourth inning to throw strikes at the beginning of the count.”
After Rutgers scored three runs in the top of the ninth off junior closer A.J. Salcines, Miami came back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Pinch hitter, sophomore Garrett Kennedy, hit a ball to left that got by Zarrillo and scored junior centerfielder Dale Carey and junior third baseman Brad Fieger to give the Hurricanes a 5-4 walk off victory.