The University of Miami baseball team opened the season taking two of three games from the Florida Gators after a 19-5 win on Sunday afternoon in front of 2,632 fans at Mark Light Stadium.
After only seven hits from the ‘Canes lineup in the first two games combined, Miami exploded for 23 hits in the final game of the series, including a home run from senior Adam Ricks.
“Anytime you beat Florida it’s big,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “A lot of the young guys had a good game for us today.”
The ‘Canes jumped on the board quickly with three runs in the first inning, as sophomore shortstop Ryan Braun collected his first RBI of the season on a single up the middle, plating designated hitter Joey Hooft. Senior Jim Burt followed with a chopper over third to score Ricks. Braun scored on an Erick San Pedro ground out. Hooft went 5 for 6 on the day.
“Some days I see the ball better than others,” Hooft said. “It was fun.”
Miami starter Brandon Camardese’s early exit brought the curtain up on the career of reliever Danny Gil. A freshman out of Miami’s own Christopher Columbus High School, Gil stepped on the mound with runners on first and second base and proceeded to strike out the first four batters he faced before giving up an infield single in the top of the fourth. Gil would go on to pitch four shutout innings giving up just two hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
“I never imagined my debut would be this good,” Gil said after receiving a pie in the face as a token of appreciation from his teammates. “I got that first strikeout and really got into the game after that.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Miami third baseman Gaby Sanchez and first baseman Jim Burt set the table with back-to-back singles. Centerfielder Brian Barton followed with a bunt single which loaded the bases for Richard Giannotti, who singled in between first and second base to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead. Hooft would tack on one more with a single to right field to put the ‘Canes up 5-2 and they would not look back.
On Friday night, Miami hit a brick wall in the form of UF starter Justin Hoyman. The junior right-hander out of Brevard Community College will be one of the most watched pitchers in the nation this season. Scouts from every major league team crowded behind home plate with their radar guns and watched as Hoyman had little problems shutting down Miami’s high-powered offense. The ‘Canes were held to just two hits as the Gators shut out the Hurricanes 3-0.
Despite the loss, Miami received formidable pitching from senior left-handed pitcher J. D. Cockroft, who yielded just one run in the loss. Cockroft gave way to senior Dan Touchet, who made his first appearance after sitting out most of last season following Tommy John surgery. Touchet pitched five innings, giving up two runs on six hits.
“More importantly than how he pitched, was the fact that he was pitching,” Morris said. “He was pain free and it’s great to have him back out there.”
Saturday night proved to be a better night for the ‘Canes, as they were able to notch their first win of the season. Starting pitching once again prevailed as junior starter Vince Bongiovanni pitched five innings of no-hit baseball to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory.
“It felt great to get the first one of the season,” Bongiovanni said. “I had everything working for me tonight.”
Despite another weak offensive effort for the ‘Canes, San Pedro, and Giannotti provided enough of a spark to get the job done. Giannotti went 3 for 3, including a textbook bunt single down the third baseline in his final at bat.
San Pedro went 2 for 3 with a home run and a double, driving in three and scoring two.
“This was a very important win for us,” San Pedro said “Last night was a good game, but we got it done tonight.”
The ‘Canes will try to maintain their momentum next weekend as the University of Tennessee Volunteers come into town for a three game set at the Light. Games will be Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. followed by the series finale on Sunday at 1p.m.
Ryan Ellis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.