In a back-and-forth affair at Alex Rodriguez Park, the Miami Hurricanes completed a weekend sweep of visiting St. John's with a 6-4 win in Sunday's series finale.
Sophomore lefthander Andrew Suarez provided another strong performance from the mound, going 6.2 innings and allowing just one earned run. The Miami, Fla., native, who struck out three Red Storm batters on the afternoon and walked none, scattered six hits in his third straight quality start.
In a game that saw three lead changes over the middle frames, a three-run, two-out rally in the seventh inning would prove the difference. With the victory, the Hurricanes (32-18) extended their home winning streak to six consecutive games.
Suarez was boosted by a diving grab from senior Chantz Mack in the second that helped prevent an early run. With two runners on base, Mack lunged forward and caught a sinking flyball in his outstretched glove to end the inning. The lefthander would retire six in a row after the catch, doing his part to keep the Red Storm (20-30) off the board.
Despite drawing five walks against St. John's starter Ryan Horstman, the Hurricanes were unable to generate any run support for Suarez in the early going. But, having chased Horstman out of the game after just four innings, the hosts tagged Ryan McCormick in his first inning of relief.
Freshman outfielder Ricky Eusebio led off the inning with a single, while Palmer reached via bunt single to give the Hurricanes two runners on base. After Hernandez advanced both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, McCormick intentionally walked Mack to force an out at any base.
Junior Brad Fieger would convert the opportunity, connecting on a flyball to deep center to plate Eusebio and break the deadlock for a 1-0 advantage. McCormick limited the damage, however, as freshman David Thompson's 12-pitch at bat ended in an inning-ending strikeout.
The Red Storm responded with two runs in the top of the sixth, taking their first lead of the game on an RBI single from Frank Schwindel.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Hurricanes managed to plate two runs in the bottom of the inning to regain a 3-2 advantage. After allowing back-to-back singles to senior Alex San Juan and sophomore Garrett Kennedy, McCormick balked to advance both runners into scoring position. Infield RBI singles from Eusebio and Hernandez helped Miami regain a one-run lead.
Though St. John's would knot the game at 3-3 on a sacrifice fly from Dan Roland, the Hurricanes connected for three runs off reliever Thomas Hackimer (0-2) in the decisive seventh inning. With two runners on base and two outs, pinch hitter Roger Gonzalez connected on an infield hit to load the bases. Palmer went opposite field for a single to put Miami back on top at 4-3, while a rip up the middle from Hernandez off Hackimer plated two more to extend the lead to three. With the hit, Hernandez set a new career high with three RBI's in the game.
Senior Eric Whaley pitched well in relief of Suarez, allowing a lone unearned run. The righthander jumpstarted an inning-ending double play in the eighth by fielding a sharp grounder and throwing to a covering Brandon Lopez, who fired to first baseman Brad Fieger to end the inning.
Closer Eric Nedeljkovic recorded his second save of the series and conference-leading 12th save of the season with a perfect ninth, as Miami cruised to its first weekend sweep since February.
The Hurricanes next travel to Winston Salem, N.C. for a weekend series with Wake Forest. First pitch for Friday's series opener is set for 6 p.m.