DURHAM — Duke made the finale of its three-game series with Miami a nail-biter Sunday.
The Blue Devils weren’t in any mood for a moral victory because they’re in desperate need of wins. They didn’t get one, as Brandon Lopez singled home the winning run with two outs in the eighth inning of the Hurricanes’ 4-3 victory at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
No. 5 Miami (38-14, 22-5 ACC), which has won 25 of its past 27 games, won the first two of the series by a combined score of 15-2.
Duke (30-21, 15-12), which has clinched a spot in the ACC tournament for the first time since 2009, is seeking its first NCAA tournament bid since 1961.
“It’s hard to take positives out of this one, because we had opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them,” Duke’s second-year coach Chris Pollard said. “We had guys in scoring position and didn’t come up with the big two-out hits that we needed and they did.
“We competed well and had good pitching, but we had a whole lot of opportunities where we didn’t get it done today.”
Miami coach Jim Morris said a road sweep of any ACC foe – especially one as talented as Duke – is something to be proud of.
“They played us good,” Morris said. “Duke’s got starting pitching that’s as good as anybody in the conference. (Michael) Matuella might be the top pro prospect in the conference next year. (Jordan) Betts is outstanding at third base, and he must have hit .800 against us this weekend.
“They’ve got a good club and competed hard. I’ve been in this league a long time. There aren’t two tiers anymore. Anybody can lose to anybody in this conference, and we’ve swept four straight series on the road.”
Matuella had a quality start in the no-decision, going six innings and allowing three runs – two earned – on five hits with seven strikeouts against a walk before giving way to Andrew Istler (8-6).
Miami’s Bryan Radziewski (6-2) went seven innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on 10 hits, striking out four with one walk before Bryan Garcia came on for his 14th save.
“Overall my outing was decent,” Matuella said. “But in the sixth inning they got three doubles on three missed spots. There was a curve ball too much up and a slider too much over the plate and a fastball too much up. I was probably a little tired at that point, but I was able to push through it.
“We just need to keep showing up and have success. But all our games now are pretty much must-wins.”
Dale Carey led the Hurricanes with a double, two singles and an RBI, and Tyler Palmer added a double and a single with an RBI.
Andy Perez went 3-for-3 for the Blue Devils, getting hit by a pitch and sacrificing on his other two plate appearances and stealing a base. Betts added three hits and a steal, and Mike Rosenfeld tripled and singled.
“I felt good,” Perez said. “I got good swings early in counts. But we didn’t get enough hits with runners in scoring position and that was the difference in the game.
“(Radziewski) had a really good curve ball he could throw in any count. He threw me a 2-0 curve ball once and most people don’t have enough confidence to throw that.”
Duke took a 1-0 lead in the second as David Perkins singled to left, took two bases on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Rosenfeld’s single to left.
Miami tied the score in the third when Brad Fieger reached on catcher’s interference and scored on Dale Carey’s one-out single to right.
The Blue Devils stretched the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the frame. After Mark Lumpa walked and Perez was hit by a pitch, Betts loaded the bases with a single to left. Then with two out, Aaron Cohn hit a two-run single to right.
The Hurricanes tied it in the sixth on consecutive doubles from Carey, Palmer and Zack Collins.
Miami then took the lead in the eighth. Palmer hit a one-out single to left and stole second before taking third on Willie Abreu’s infield hit. Robert Huber then relieved Istler. Lopez greeted him with a single to left for the go-ahead run.
Duke’s next game is at home Tuesday against Richmond before a regular-season finale series at Florida State beginning Friday night.