Miami takes two out of three in first series of season
After a pair of blowout wins to start off its three game series with the Campbell Camels this weekend, the Hurricane baseball team seemed to be on its way to an easy sweep. The Camels had other plans for Saturday’s series finale, however, as they matched the ‘Canes blow for blow — pulling out a 12-9 victory in 10 innings at Mark Light Field on Saturday. The Camels torched the six Hurricanes pitchers for 12 runs on 17 hits, blowing a 4-0 lead, but coming back to tie the contest in the ninth, and pulled away with five runs in the tenth.
Head coach Jim Morris was impressed with the Camels effort on Saturday after they lost 13-2 and 10-3 in the first two games, respectively.
“Campbell did very well and you have to give them credit for coming back,” Morris said. “It takes a good team to come back from two tough losses.”
Shortstop Tom Rispoli, who had the game’s only home run and went 3-6 with three RBI, paced Campbell’s offense. Rispoli was aided by catcher Jason Brown, who went 3-4 with three runs batted in, and third baseman Derek Barrows, who chipped in with three hits and a pair of RBI.
The Hurricanes were led by centerfielder Danny Figueroa, who had one of his best games, going 4-4, while scoring twice, and catcher Erick San Pedro, who broke out of a minor slump with two hits and three RBI.
“Figueroa did a good job of getting on base today,” Morris said. “We needed him to make things happen at the top of the order.”
With the exception of Figueroa, Miami had trouble hitting Campbell’s starting pitcher Matt Kleweno, who stifled the Hurricane batters for the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.
“Their starter did a good job of changing speeds and using breaking pitches,” Morris said. “He kept us off balance.”
It was in the sixth inning when UM’s bats came alive. The Figueroa brothers, Paco and Danny, both were able to get on base to start the rally. San Pedro capped it off with a bases-clearing double, giving the ‘Canes a 6-4 lead at the end of the sixth.
“I was frustrated after my first two at-bats,” San Pedro said. “I wanted a chance to make up for it and I was able to.”
Miami pitcher Ryan Dixon struggled in his first career start – lasting just 2.2 innings while giving up four runs on six hits in the process. The ‘Canes received mileage from their bullpen, as Marcelo Albir, Shawn Valdes-Fauli, and J.D. Cockroft combined to surrender just a run over the next five innings. The relievers, particularly Cockroft, started to wilt in the ninth inning as the Camels were able to score twice to make the score 7-7 and force extra innings.
“We’re missing our closer right now and that is forcing us to use many different guys,” Morris said. “Cockroft gave us some good innings but he got tired towards the end.”
The Camels exploded in the tenth inning, scoring five runs off reliever Tom King. The ‘Canes managed to score twice in the bottom half but their rally came up short in the end as a Brian Barton fly out sealed a 12-9 win for the Camels.
“We just have to pitch better late,” Morris said. “Our offense was productive, but our bullpen needs to keep us in the game.”
The first two games of the series were dominated by the ‘Canes who outscored the Camels 23-5 in the victories.
Thursday night’s victory featured homeruns by freshman Gaby Sanchez, junior Jim Burt, and sophomore Paco Figueroa. Barton contributed a pair of hits and three RBI, while designated hitter Adam Ricks added a pair of hits and two RBI.
The ‘Canes received six scoreless innings from sophomore starter Vince Bongiovanni, who only allowed one hit and struck out 10, earning his first win of the season.
Friday’s game featured another strong outing for a Hurricane starter, as Brandon Camardese threw five solid innings, surrendering only two hits and a run, while striking out eight Camel batters. The offense was provided by Sanchez (3-4, two runs, three RBI), Ricks (2-3, two runs), and Burt (3-5, two RBI.).
The Hurricanes will now travel to Gainesville for a long-awaited rematch with the Florida Gators who the Hurricanes shocked in last year’s regionals. The team hopes to get a couple of confidence-building wins in Gainesville.
“When you have a series at home, you want to sweep it,” Morris said. “When you go on the road, especially to a place like Gainesville, you will be happy just to win the series.”
-Eric Kalis can be reached at email@example.com