CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Duke Blue Devils 5-3, to take the final contest of the ACC opening series on a beautiful day at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
Suarez (2-1) took the victory by going a career-high seven innings, scattering six hits. The left-hander gave up two runs, one earned, while striking out four and walking one.
“I just came in there today more relaxed,” said Suarez, who lasted just 2 2-3 innings in his last start against Florida. “Just more loose with my arm. Just let my defense do the work. I just kept throwing strikes. I didn’t try to strike out anyone.”
The Blue Devils struck for the first run of the game, in the third inning, when Kenny Koplove singled to left field to score Anthony D’Alessandro from second. D’Alessandro reached second by way of shortstop Brandon Lopez’ throwing error, pulling first baseman, Chris Barr, off the bag, and a sacrifice bunt.
Miami prevented a big inning by getting out of a bases-loaded jam with one out.
Dale Carey made a running catch on a fly ball to center, for the second out, and his momentum allowed him to rifle-in a throw to catcher Garrett Kennedy who was standing on top of home plate. Kennedy caught the ball and turned to meet pinch runner Angelo La Bruna charging home from third. Kennedy was knocked over but held onto the ball for the third out.
“Dale has one of the best arms on the team,” said Mack, who wasn’t surprised. “Probably the best arm on the team. It was a shallow fly ball, well it wasn’t too shallow, I give him credit, it wasn’t too shallow. He has a good arm and it was just hanging up there, hanging up there and I was like Dale’s going to throw him out at home. Once he caught it and that guy starting tagging I knew it was over, he was out…it was a good tag by Garrett also.”
Suarez acknowledged the play pumped him up for the remainder of his outing.
“It helped me out a lot," Suarez said. "It just gave me more fire because of the way he didn’t slide in. So I just had to come back and dominate.”
The Hurricanes struck for three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 3-1 lead.
Lopez and Barr both drew walks to open the home half of the inning. For Barr, making his first career start, it was the first of three times he would reach base.
Following a pitching change, second baseman Alex Hernandez advanced the runners via sacrifice bunt. Mack scored both Lopez and Barr on a single to right, giving Miami a 2-1 lead. Mack said he wanted to be in attack-mode at the plate.
“The first at-bat, two RBIs, the guy was coming after me with fastballs," Mack said. "They have been all series and I haven’t been aggressive. Today I made it a point to be aggressive and he came with fastball first pitch and I just tried to put a good swing on it and the ball went through the infield.”
Brad Fieger singled down the left field line moving Mack to third and Alex San Juan, followed with a single through the left side, scoring Mack from third, putting San Juan’s hitting streak at five games and moving Miami’s advantage to 3-1.
The Blue Devils, (8-7, 2-1) struck for a run in the fifth when D’Alessandro led off with a triple down the line in right. A pop-up and ground out kept D’Alessandro at third, before a double by Andy Perez scored D’Alessandro to cut the Duke deficit to 3-2.
Miami plated two more in the sixth on RBIs from Hernandez and Mack.
Kennedy reached first on an error and Lopez walked to start the inning. Another Duke pitching change preceded a sac-bunt by Barr to put runners on second and third. Hernandez then hit a single up the middle to score Kennedy from third and make it 4-2. Mack followed by flying out to left, scoring Lopez from third and making it 5-2.
“In the second at-bat, man on third one-out you want a ball that’s elevated so you can get a deep fly ball get him in and that’s what happened,” Mack said. “I just was aggressive.”
A night after producing just a single hit out of the top five spots, the Hurricanes struck for six hits from those same five top spots. Morris said getting the leadoff runner on base is key to productive innings.
“Part of it was Barr getting on," Morris said. "It gave them a little bit of incentive as the inning started for him getting on. I think you got to have somebody to set the table. That puts pressure on the other team too, defensively and pitching-wise.”
Miami lefthander A.J. Salcines came on in relief of Suarez in the eighth and gave up a run. The junior induced the first two outs by way of groundouts. A homerun to the palm trees in left-center by junior Jordan Betts produced the final score 5-3. Salcines struck out redshirt sophomore Chris Marconcini on three pitches for the third out.
The ninth was covered by senior Eric Nedeljkovic, who recorded his first save of the season. Following a leadoff walk, Nedeljkovic ended the game with two groundouts sandwiching a strikeout.
“It was a big win for us,” Miami head coach Jim Morris said. “After being down 2-0 in the series you could fold up your tent and go home. It was a game that had some pressure on it. The fact that we needed to win a game today. We needed to win. I thought we battled hard.”
Duke starter Robert Huber (2-1) took the loss, lasting just two innings, allowing two earned runs and walking three, while striking out two before getting replaced after back-to-back walks to begin the third. Huber wasn’t as effective as his Friday outing when he threw two shutdown innings, retiring all six of the Miami batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings of Duke’s 4-2 victory.
Miami freshman David Thompson didn’t play for the first time this season, with Barr replacing him at first. Thompson is in a recent slump, getting no hits in his last eight at bats. Morris wanted to give Thompson a rest and let him clear his mind.
“I thought it would be good for David to maybe just sit a game and watch and relax and see if I can take some pressure off of him," Morris said. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself. He may seem like a laid-back guy, but he’s very intense inside. And no one is tougher on himself than Thompson is.”
Morris believes if anything, this series shows the depth of the ACC.
“It just proves the fact that this is a tough league," Morris said. "Duke is not supposed to be a team that comes to Miami and wins and yet they got a good club. They played pretty good this weekend. I looked at their stats after last night and they were tenth in the league in hitting and eleventh in the league in pitching. I didn’t see that team this weekend. I saw a different team. A team that played very well, well coached and had some good arms coming out of the pen and was a good solid club."
Notes LHP Thomas Woodrey (2-0, 2.41) is expected to start Tuesday to begin a two-game set with Illinois State beginning at 6 p.m. to close out the seven-game homestand.
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