Baseball wins first series

The Hurricanes baseball team took it’s first step in defending its national title this weekend at Mark Light Stadium by rallying to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers in a three game series with a 9-4 comeback victory on Sunday afternoon.
UM junior third baseman Kevin Howard was the hero of the game as his two run double helped to put the ‘Canes up for good in the bottom of the 8th inning.
In the top of the 6th inning, Howard flashed some leather by becoming the first player in 20 years to turn a triple play for UM.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Volunteers right fielder Ryan Moffett, hit a ball that appeared to be a double down the third base line, but after further discussion, it was ruled a foul ball. On the next pitch, Moffett ripped another ball down the third base line, only this time to have it snared by Howard. Howard completed the triple play by stepping on third and then throwing on to Matt Dryer at first to triple up the Volunteers.
“I have never been involved in any situation involving a triple play,” Howard said. “It’s just one of those things in baseball that can happen at any time.”
The play proved to be a momentum booster for the Hurricanes. Down 4-1 in the seventh, right fielder Kevin Mannix hit the first UM home run of the season by launching a bomb off of the clock of the newly renovated scoreboard at Mark Light Stadium.
On the following pitch, senior first baseman Matt Dryer followed with a blast of his own as the ‘Canes went back to back.
“The triple play certainly turned things around for us,” said shortstop Javy Rodriguez. “We thought that getting out of that inning by only giving up one run would be great, and two runs would still be good. It gave us the momentum we needed to realize that we could still win the game.”
The win was capped off by Hurricane freshman catcher Greg Dini, who got his first hit as a Hurricane by nailing a single that cleared the bases in the bottom of the 8th.
“This win is great for us,” said UM head coach Jim Morris. “With all the freshmen players we have, it is hard enough to get them all experience, but to get them experience and confidence in the same shot is great.”
Morris cited the win as a building block for the season.
“The season is all about winning series against great ball clubs,” said Morris. “These are the kind of wins we need to achieve a No. 1 ranking, and to get us back to where we need to be.”
After the 8th inning rally, the winning pitcher for Miami ended up being closer George Huguet, who was appearing in his first game of the season.
Sunday was a much needed win for the ‘Canes after an atrocious defensive performance in a 7-4 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The ‘Canes gave up four errors which all proved very costly and the key to the Volunteers’ victory.
“Defense is definitely something we can always work on,” said Rodriguez. “With the offense, it takes a while to get the timing of pitches down and you see a different pitcher every day, but defense is always the same. We can always take infield practice.”
In the Saturday loss, All-American starting pitcher Kiki Bengochea was roughed up and taken out in the 3rd inning and the ‘Canes never seemed to recover.
On Friday night, Miami started the season off on the right foot by beating the Volunteers 5-4 in front of over 4,000 fans at the “Light.” It was the largest opening night crowd in 10 years. The win also stopped a Tennessee winning streak on opening day that dated back to 1984.
In the game, freshman centerfielder Danny Figueroa lashed his first hit of his UM career with an RBI single in the 4th inning.
Troy Roberson went 4 1/3 innings to earn the win, before a nice relief effort from the bullpen sealed it.
The game ended with reliever Vince Vazquez striking out two of three Tennessee hitters to close the door for the ‘Canes.
Miami will be in action on Wednesday Night when they travel to cross town rival FIU.

February 5, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.