Danny Matienzo and Kevin Howard led the offensively charged Miami Hurricanes (5-4) to a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-3) this past weekend.
After losing three straight games, Miami bounced back with 38 runs in the series to more than double their previous run total of 30.
Two of Howard’s four home runs this weekend came Sunday afternoon, including the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth to give Miami a 7-6 win.
“It was a great effort,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “You have to win close games to be a good team.”
Howard improved his batting average this series 80 points bringing it up to .297.
“I’ve been hitting the ball real hard all season,” Howard said. “It just wasn’t going over for me until this weekend.”
Miami freshman Erick San Pedro tied the game at six in the bottom of the eighth with a RBI single to center.
San Pedro made his first three appearances this season, starting each game against Minnesota.
“San Pedro took a lot of pressure off of us,” said Morris, referring to his game tying hit. “He did a great job hitting and catching this weekend.”
Morris’ decisions to start San Pedro and move Matienzo to the designated hitter role were not the only changes he made in the Hurricane infield.
Haas Pratt replaced Matt Dryer at first base, as he moved to third, Howard went from third to shortstop, and Javy Rodriguez shifted to second base.
According to Morris, these changes should remain for at least next week.
Saturday afternoon’s game was one for the record books. Miami came back from an 11-2 deficit to defeat the Golden Gophers, 21-17, in a four-hour, 45-minute slugfest.
Minnesota was up 7-2 with two outs in the top of the third until right fielder Jason Kennedy hit a grand slam off Miami freshman reliever Brandon Camardese, putting Miami in a nine-run hole.
The Hurricanes would respond with 11 runs in the third and fourth innings, including solo home runs by Howard and Matienzo, as well as a grand slam by sophomore Jim Burt for his second home run of the game.
“I was just trying to put the ball into play,” said Burt, about his first career grand slam. “You have to do that with two strikes on you.”
Burt also had two doubles to finish the game 4-for-5 with six RBI – a career high for the left fielder.
“Being in the lineup everyday helped me adjust,” Burt said. “I could see the ball really well this weekend.”
Matienzo would add another solo home run in the seventh, making it the second day in a row which he had hit two home runs.
“I feel that I bring more to the team as the DH,” said Matienzo, referring to his position change. “I can concentrate on hitting more.”
Kevin Mannix and Rodriguez both went 4-for-5 with a walk apiece. Mannix had three doubles and two RBI, while Rodriguez knocked in three runs.
Kennedy would add a solo home run in the eighth for his seventh RBI of the day – the most RBI an opposing player had in a game against Miami.
Shawn Valdes-Fauli recorded his first career win despite giving up two earned runs in just two innings pitched.
The only Miami pitcher to throw more than Valdes-Fauli was starter Kiki Bengochea, who went 2.1 innings and gave up seven earned runs.
Miami used seven pitchers in the record setting 38-run game, which included five lead changes.
Howard and Burt belted solo home runs Friday night as well, leading the Hurricanes to a 10-4 win over Minnesota.
The victory marked Morris’ 900th career Division-Iwin.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Morris said after the game “But the most important thing to me is that we won tonight.”
Miami junior Troy Roberson was pulled after not giving up an earned run on three hits. The starter was taken out in the top of the fifth, just one out shy of becoming eligible for the victory, however, Morris decided 89 pitches was more than enough.
“He was getting tired,” Morris said. “We knew that from the beginning of the inning.”
Hurricane sophomore J.D. Cockroft improved his record to 2-0 in his 1.1 inning relief appearance.
All of Miami’s five wins this season have been awarded to relief pitchers.
Miami resumes play Friday night as they kick off the Homestead Challenge against FIU. Miami will try to avenge the 7-1 loss they suffered over a week ago.