Despite a 10-1 loss on Sunday afternoon at the hands of the Long Beach State 49ers, the Miami Baseball team has to be happy with wins on Friday and Saturday night at Mark Light Stadium.
The two victories gave the Hurricanes their first weekend series win since they swept UCLA March 23-25.
“We would have liked to take all three games,” said Hurricane head coach Jim Morris. “Two out of three and a series victory is definitely a positive thing for us though.”
One Hurricane that continues to contribute on a regular basis to the to climb back into the regional picture is senior left fielder Brad Safchik.
The ‘Canes leadoff hitter was about the only hitter who showed up in the Sunday afternoon loss, going two for four and registering one third of the Miami hit total on the afternoon.
“We would have liked to win this last game,” Safchik said. “We fell behind early and didn’t start hitting until it was too late in the game.”
Safchik noted that regardless of the Hurricanes’ struggles this season and the blowout loss on Sunday, the team morale is still high.
“The morale is good,” said Safchik. “Any time you take two out of three from a team that is nationally ranked as high as No. 13, you are getting the job done. We needed this series win to build up our confidence going into Chapel Hill next weekend.”
“Brad has been doing well for us,” said Morris. “Not only is he getting on base all the time as a leadoff hitter, but when given the chance, he is driving in a lot of runs for us as well.”
Morris also noted what a good series it was for the team to build on for the rest of the season.
“As long as we keep doing what we are doing and winning two out of three games for the rest of the season, we will be in the regionals,” said Morris. “We did that this weekend and we are going to keep fighting the rest of the way. As long as we keep battling we will be there. If we give up and stop working hard, that is when we are going to run into trouble.”
Despite all the positives, Morris noted starting pitching being a large source of the Miami struggle this season.
“I really don’t know who is going to throw this weekend,” said Morris. “We will probably decide that much later in the week.”
In addition to starting pitching being a problem, the ‘Canes did not receive any production from the bottom of their lineup during the loss.
“The bottom of our lineup has been doing well with players such as Paco Figueroa getting on base a lot,” said Morris. “When giving these guys a chance to play, you can’t really base anything off of one game’s performance.
“We have been mixing things up a lot all season, but I don’t think we are going to change all that much in the lineup next weekend based on this games performance.”
On Saturday night, UM pitchers Kiki Bengochea and TJ Prunty were both slated to pitch a certain number of innings. The duo pitched well combining for 7.1 strong innings, giving up five earned runs and nine hits, while striking out four and walking four on the evening. With the effort, Bengochea received the win and improved his record to three wins and five losses on the season.
“It was definitely a positive thing for both of us to really get some good work in,” said Bengochea.
On Friday night, it was Hurricane third baseman Kevin Howard who played hero. With two men on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the scored tied at six, Howard blasted a pitch from Long Beach State pitcher, Daniel Eisentrager over the right -center field fence to give the Hurricanes a walk-off 9-6 victory. The laser off of Howard’s bat was his second game winning home run of the year and his seventh overall.
With the series victory, the Hurricanes improved their record to 20 wins and 19 losses.
The Hurricanes play next Wednesday night at 7p.m. against a very solid Florida Atlantic University squad who are currently ranked as high as No. 17 in the national polls. Following the mid week affair at Mark Light Stadium, the ‘Canes will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a very important three game set against the Tarheels.