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Miami takes series with 6-3 win over ND

| Monday, April 21, 2014

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Notre Dame was five outs away from a road series win over a ranked ACC opponent.

But then it all fell apart for the Irish.

No. 11 Miami scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to steal a 6-3 victory Monday at Alex Rodriguez Park and secure its fourth straight series win.

“It’s a shame but, essentially, we’re about six outs away from sweeping a series on the road, to be honest with you,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “I think we’re playing a heck of a lot better baseball than we were playing for a stretch of time. I thought we came down here and I thought we played pretty darn well.

“I’m not really into moral victories and at the end of the day, unfortunately, we dropped another series.”

Notre Dame (16-23, 4-17 ACC) lost Saturday, 3-2, as the Hurricanes (28-13, 16-5) scored two in the bottom of the ninth before bouncing back with a 7-4 win Sunday.

The Irish have now dropped six of their seven ACC weekend series, the lone win coming last week against Boston College. Miami has won its last four series and 15 out of its last 16 games overall.

Irish junior right-hander Pat Connaughton (1-3) took the loss by tossing 7 2/3 innings and giving up six runs on seven hits while walking four and striking out eight.

“I thought overall, Pat was really good. That’s two outings in a row where, for the most part, he’s been in the strike zone,” Aoki said.

Connaughton cruised through the first seven innings, allowing only four Hurricanes to reach second base.

In the first 26 batters he faced, Connaughton threw three balls to only three hitters but he ran three-ball counts to the first two Hurricanes in the eighth, including a one-out walk to Hurricanes senior center fielder Dale Carey.

“Unfortunately that walk, which so often this season has come back to bite us in the rear end, that one-out walk to Carey kind of came back to bite us in the rear end,” Aoki said.

Carey scored on senior left fielder Tyler Palmer’s triple to left-center and freshman designated hitter Zack Collins followed with a sacrifice fly to shallow left to drive home his second run of the game. Miami added insurance runs in the eighth when Irish senior right-hander Donnie Hissa walked in two runs.

Collins finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.

Entering the series, Notre Dame was 13-1 when leading after seven innings. The Irish were 1-2 this weekend in those situations.

“I think we are getting a little bit caught up in the moment,” Aoki said. “It’s not just bloodless, passionless execution. … Some of those plays in the fourth inning, we’re making. Some of those plays in the ninth inning, we tighten up and we’re not making. Or those pitches, or those swings or whatever it happens to be.”

The Irish took a 3-2 lead after scoring twice in the top of the seventh. Notre Dame put runners on the corners with one out and leadoff hitter Conor Biggio up. Biggio tapped a ball up the first base line and Hurricanes senior left-hander Bryan Radziewski slid, fielded and threw home to get junior third baseman Kevin DeFilippis at the plate.

After a double-steal put Irish runners at second and third, junior center fielder Mac Hudgins singled through the right side for a two-run single and Notre Dame retook a one-run lead. The hit was Hudgins’ fifth of the series.

Hudgins led Notre Dame by going 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and two RBI.

More than 10 major league scouts were at Alex Rodriguez Park to watch the pitching matchup between Connaughton and Radziewski. Connaughton is regarded as a top-50 college prospect while Radziewski was selected in the 29th round in 2013.

Radziewski struck out nine across seven innings but walked five, leading to three runs. Radziewski has struck out at least seven in his last five outings.

Miami freshman right-hander Bryan Garcia (4-2) earned the win by tossing two innings of scoreless relief. Garcia leads the ACC with 11 saves.

Notre Dame broke a 0-0 deadlock in the fourth by loading the bases with one out. Freshman second baseman Cavan Biggio lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Hudgins. But junior left fielder Ryan Bull got caught in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.

Miami tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a double down the right field line by Collins. Collins’ sixth hit of the weekend scored Carey. The next hitter, freshman right fielder Willie Abreu drove in Collins with an RBI single to right to put Miami up 2-1.

Notre Dame will try to stay perfect in midweek games when it plays Central Michigan on Wednesday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

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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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