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Hurricanes come back to beat Irish in ninth, 3-2

| Saturday, April 19, 2014

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Sean Fitzgerald knelt by the third-base line and looked out at Alex Rodriguez Park’s diamond, possibly wondering what could have been for Notre Dame on Saturday night.

The Notre Dame senior right-hander threw his second complete game of the season but took the loss as No. 11 Miami came back to beat Notre Dame 3-2.

“A tough one, one that we packaged up relatively nicely and gave to them,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said.

The win was Miami’s nation-leading 14th consecutive victory and a program-record 10th straight ACC win.

The Hurricanes (27-12, 15-4 ACC) trailed the Irish (15-22, 3-16) 2-1 entering the ninth but scored two runs to walk off. Freshman right fielder Willie Abreu led off the frame by reaching on an error by Irish freshman shortstop Kyle Fiala, who was making his first start at the position.

“He had a little bit more time than he probably thought of and he didn’t need to come up and get rid of the ball the way that he did there,” Aoki said.

Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins followed with a triple off the right-field wall as two Irish outfielders collided on the warning track.

“Kyle Richardson and Robert [Youngdahl] out there miscommunicating, which was inexcusable,” Aoki said. “Robert was camped under that ball.”

Sophomore pinch-runner Ricky Eusebio scored on the next pitch as senior first baseman Brad Fieger lifted a sacrifice fly to right.

Fitzgerald (3-3) went 8 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits while striking out five and walking one.

With Fitzgerald’s effort, Notre Dame starters have now gone at least seven innings in five consecutive games. The complete game was Notre Dame’s third in the last four games.

“He’s been so darn consistent this year in giving us opportunities to win,” Aoki said. “He hasn’t pitched us out of anything. Every time he’s taken the ball, he’s given us an opportunity to win it.

“This is one of those things that goes to show you how unfair baseball is because he gets saddled with that loss and in no way, shape or form, should he have gotten saddled with that loss.”

Fitzgerald allowed a run in the third inning but gave up two singles and a walk in the next five innings in facing just two hitters over the minimum.

The loss drops Notre Dame to 4-11 in one-run games and 1-8 in one-run ACC games. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are 9-1 in one-game contests.

“We’ve lost them in so many different ways, I don’t know if I can sit here and point at one thing and ‘Hey, if we do x, y is going to happen,’” Aoki said. “I think this is a team that just doesn’t know how to win these kinds of games. I think experience, a little bit, is one of the only teachers of it.”

The Irish did not get their first hit until freshman second baseman Cavan Biggio led off the fifth with a single through the right side. Senior catcher Forrest Johnson followed with a base hit up the middle.

After a two-out bunt single by junior left fielder Mac Hudgins, Fiala lined a two-run double down the right field line to put the Irish up 2-1. Fiala finished 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Miami scored first in the third when sophomore shortstop Brandon Lopez led off with a double to right-center. A fielder’s choice and a strikeout put runners on the corners with one out.

Hurricanes senior center fielder Dale Carey lifted a high fly ball to right field but Irish junior right fielder Ryan Bull lost the ball in the lights and it fell for an RBI single.

Miami junior left-hander Chris Diaz went eight innings and allowed two runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out five. Miami has not lost a game Diaz had started since May 24, a streak of 11 games.

Hurricanes sophomore left-hander Thomas Woodrey (2-0) earned the win by tossing one perfect inning of relief.

Notre Dame will send sophomore left-hander Michael Hearne (2-4, 2.26 ERA) to the mound Sunday while Miami will counter with redshirt sophomore left-hander Andrew Suarez (4-1, 2.66 ERA). First pitch at Alex Rodriguez Park is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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About Matthew DeFranks

Matthew DeFranks is an Assistant Managing Editor and a senior Finance major and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy minor from Miami. He loves a solid 2-3 zone, Sperry's, fantasy football drafts, How I Met Your Mother, Cuban food, free parking, beaches, good hip-hop and airports. He hates wearing white socks, the Florida Gators, pickles, Shakespeare, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the Patriots, death metal, Ed Hardy shirts and airports.

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