The No. 3 UVa. baseball team lost its series opener, 7-1, to No. 25 Miami Saturday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables, Fla. The Cavaliers (17-4, 5-2 ACC) received another quality start from Nathan Kirby (So., Midlothian, Va.), but he was outdueled by Chris Diaz, who pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run baseball for Miami (13-10, 5-2).
Kirby (5-1) worked a career-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs, five hits and two walks while fanning four in taking his first loss of 2014. It marked his sixth straight quality start this season.
Diaz (5-0) pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up one run, five hits and three walks with three strikeouts to earn the win. Bryan Garcia pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to earn his sixth save.
Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) drove in the Cavaliers’ lone run as UVa was limited to five hits. Zack Collins hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning for Miami to break a 1-1 deadlock and send the Hurricanes on their way to the Game 1 win.
After Diaz and Kirby matched zeroes on the scoreboard for five innings, Virginia broke the stalemate in the sixth inning, parlaying a leadoff Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.) single into a run on a two-out Howard RBI single.
Miami came right back to score three runs in its half of the sixth. After a Tyler Palmer leadoff bunt single, Kirby uncorked back-to-back wild pitches, with Palmer then scoring on a Willie Abreu groundout to second. Brad Fieger followed with a single and Collins lined a two-run homer to right, the first home run that Kirby has surrendered this season.
UVa put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth to knock Diaz from the game. Howard then launched a drive to right-center against Garcia, but center fielder Dale Carey made a fantastic diving catch on the track to rob Howard of extra bases and UVa of a pair of runs. UVa loaded the bases but Garcia got pinch hitter Matt Thaiss (Fr., Jackson, N.J.) to pop out to left field to end threat.
Miami loaded the bases with none out in the eighth and went on to score four times to blow the game open. A Whit Mayberry (R-Sr., Alexandria, Va.) bases-loaded walk to Johnny Ruiz started the scoring, and Brandon Lopez followed with a two-run double off Austin Young (Sr., Mechanicsville, Va.). Garrett Kennedy drove in the final run with a sac fly to center.
The teams continue the series at 7 p.m. Sunday. ESPN3 will have the online video broadcast. Because of the UVa men’s basketball game on Sunday night, wina 1070-AM will not carry the baseball game. The audio broadcast only will be available through a Cavaliers Live subscription on VirginiaSports.com.
A link to live statistics will be located on VirginiaSports.com. The audio and live stats also can be accessed through the Virginia Sports app, which is available through iTunes.