Before taking on archrival Florida State over Easter weekend, the Hurricane baseball team first had to take care of business on Wednesday night against Florida International University in front of 1,612 fans at University Park Stadium.
The ‘Canes outlasted the Golden Panthers 6-4 in their final tune-up before the FSU series.
“It wasn’t pretty in the beginning,” Hurricane head coach Jim Morris said. “We played well defensively and got the job done. Everybody has been asking about the FSU series all week and its hard not to overlook a midweek game.”
Coming off an up and down weekend, the team had one of their best outings of the season, according to Morris, last Friday at the University of Virginia. They followed it up on Sunday with what could have been their worst outing of the season as the Cavaliers defeated Miami 17-2.
The Hurricanes jumped out quick in the top of the first when second baseman Adam Ricks hit a solo home run to give the ‘Canes a 1-0 lead.
“It felt good,” Ricks said. “The most important thing though is we had a good defensive game when we haven’t been playing great of late on defense. We don’t know where we are going to play this weekend. Coach is going to put in the best players for the job.”
The ‘Canes extended their lead to 5-0 when the Hurricanes batted around in the second inning. Leadoff hitter Danny Figueroa perfectly executed a two out squeeze play to score Gaby Sanchez. Figueroa reached second on a throwing error, stole third, and scored on a Ryan Braun RBI single.
The ‘Canes also scored on two bases loaded walks in the inning chasing FIU starting pitcher Luis Gazitua from the game.
FIU got on the board in the bottom of the second on a bases loaded walk of their own to make the score 5-1. UM starter Ryan Dixon pitched out of the bases loaded jam without any further damage. FIU would add a run in the bottom of the third as well to pull within 5-2.
UM reliever Andrew Lane replaced Dixon in the third inning after the sophomore continued to struggle, giving up two runs on three hits while striking out two and walking four.
After FIU inched closer to 5-3 in the fourth, both teams traded runs in the sixth to make it a 6-4 ballgame.
In the victory UM closer George Huguet picked up his seventh save of the season and his 29th of his career, tying him with Danny Graves for third place on the Hurricane’s all time saves list.
“Honestly I don’t even know how many saves I have this year,” Huguet said. “I’ve been throwing a lot of innings of late but I’ve been doing my exercises and my arm feels good. I feel comfortable with the way I am pitching.”
With FIU behind them, the stage is now set for the Easter Weekend showdown. The Hurricanes will take on the Florida State Seminoles on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon at Mark Light Stadium.
Ryan Ellis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org