CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Rony Rodriguez homered and drove in three RBI to lead No. 15 Miami past Duke in a series-clinching 5-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Rodriguez went 3-for-3 with three extra-base hits, including a first-inning homer and two doubles. The junior outfielder lifted a two-run homer in the first inning that erased a 1-0 deficit and put the Hurricanes (34-20, 19-10 ACC) ahead for good.
Miami used six pitchers to hold Duke to two runs. Starter E.J. Encinosa lasted four innings, giving up one unearned run, and right-hander Travis Miller (2-0) headed a strong effort from the Hurricane bullpen. Miller threw two no-hit frames to earn the win, and Adam Sargent, Michael Rudman, Sam Robinson and closer Daniel Miranda combined to hold Duke to one run after the sixth inning.
Duke got two doubles from cleanup hitter Will Piwnica-Worms and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from senior Dennis O'Grady. Piwnica-Worms also stole his team-leading 21st base of the season to record the most steals in a season by a Duke player since 1995 when Randy Goodroe also had 21.
After Duke starter Drew Van Orden (3-6) left the game in the third, relievers Chase Bebout, Mark Lumpa and Ben Grisz held the Hurricanes at bay and allowed just two runs after the third inning. Lumpa threw two innings, allowing just one hit, while Grisz worked the final three frames and surrendered just one unearned run.
Duke took advantage of a two-out fielding error by Miami shortstop Stephen Perez to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. The two-out error came off of a ground ball by Piwnica-Worms and allowed leadoff man Jeff Kremer, who reached base with a walk, to score from third base.
Rodriguez gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the first, however, when he lifted his 10th home run over the left field wall. The two-run shot was only the 17th home run allowed all season by the Blue Devils, who have allowed the fewest long balls in the ACC.
Van Orden threw a scoreless second inning, but the Hurricanes chased him in the third after a leadoff double from Rodriguez and a one-out walk to Brad Fieger. Bebout then took over and allowed an RBI single by Chris Pelaez before retiring two of the next three hitters to escape further damage.
The Hurricanes scored again in the fourth and sixth innings to increase their lead to 5-1. Rodriguez had an RBI double during that span for his third straight extra-base hit.
Encinosa settled down after the first inning and shut Duke out through his next three frames before Miami’s bullpen took over. Miller and Sargent shut Duke out until the eighth when a leadoff double from Angelo LaBruna set the table for a sacrifice fly from O’Grady that cut Miami’s lead to 5-2.
Duke junior Will Piwnica-Worms led off the ninth inning with his second double of the day, but got no further than second after Miranda retired three of the next four batters to end the game. The double was the fifth hit of the series for Piwnica-Worms, who homered on Friday, doubled twice on Saturday and hit .333 in the three-game set.
The loss to Miami marks the end of the season for the Blue Devils, who finish with a 26-30 overall record. The Blue Devils will return 26 of 27 letterwinners for 2012, including nine of 10 position starters and 11 pitchers.
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