CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Behind a four-RBI night from shortstop Brandon Lopez and another dominant outing from lefthander Chris Diaz, No. 16 Miami cruised to a 6-2 win in its ACC opener against Boston College Friday night.
Diaz improved his flawless season record to 4-0 with the performance, going a season-long 7.1 innings and scattering just five hits. Lopez tied a personal career high with four RBI on the night, including a triple in the second inning and a two-RBI single in the sixth, to power Miami to its third straight win in front of 2,727 fans.
“It was a big win for us,” head coach Jim Morris said. “Number one, it’s the ACC. That’s what it’s all about. It gets you set up for the entire year. Boston College has a good club.”
Lopez opened the scoring for the Hurricanes (8-5) in the second with his career-first triple that scored two runners.
“It felt great, I just tried to help my team any way I could,” Lopez said of his performance. “Today I had the two baseknocks and the four RBI’s. It’s a great feeling.”
Freshman Willie Abreu got the inning’s action started with a lead-off single, and took second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore David Thompson. The single extended Abreu’s hitting streak to a career-best four consecutive games.
After junior Garrett Kennedy walked to put two runners on base, Lopez looped a 1-2 pitch from Boston College starter John Gorman (2-2) into the gap in right-center. Eagles centerfielder Tom Bourdon fully extended in his effort but could not come up with the ball, as both Abreu and Kennedy scored easily on the hit.
“I just tried to stay with my approach,” Lopez said. “I’ve been working with [hitting coach] Gino [DiMare] in the cages, and I was able to hit it to the right side.”
Boston College (6-7) responded with a run in the second on an infield single from Gabriel Hernandez that plated Bourdon, who doubled off Diaz (4-0) to lead off the third.
But other than single runs in the third and seventh, Diaz dominated the Boston College offense in another dazzling performance. The Florida City, Fla., native struck out six of the Eagles nine batters at least once, going a season-long 7.1 innings in the outing. Diaz has not allowed more than three runs in any start this season, and improved his career record to 13-6 with the performance.
“I felt like I was attacking hitters and pitching to my strength,” Diaz said. “Brandon had a great game and so did all of our defense. When that’s happening, it helps a pitcher out. I trust them. Get groundballs – that’s my game.”
The Hurricanes added a run in the fourth on an RBI double from Kennedy. With Zack Collins on first after a one-out single, Kennedy laced a Gorman offering into deep rightfield to increase the lead to 3-1.
Another big hit from Lopez – this one a two-out, two-RBI single in the sixth – put Miami in control with a 5-1 advantage. The Miramar, Fla., native improved his season batting average to .318 with his second two-hit game in just six starts this spring.
Abreu, who has also been red hot at the plate, recorded an RBI single in the seventh to put Miami ahead 6-2.
Diaz exited the game to a standing ovation in the eighth after retiring Joe Cronin on a popout to shallow right.
“Chris is Chris,” Morris said. “Sometimes I don’t think he gets enough credit because he doesn’t throw 95 [miles per hour]…he has that sinker, he gets outs, he gets a lot of groundballs. If you play defense behind him, he’ll do it.”
With solid defense behind them, senior relievers AJ Salcines and Adam Sargent combined to shut the Eagles out over the game’s last 1.2 innings.
“We haven’t made an error in the last three games, knock on wood,” Morris said. “Hopefully we can keep playing good defense.”
Miami returns to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field for game two of its series against Boston College Saturday, March 8. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
SOURCE: Miami Athletics