Playing before raucous, sold-out crowds seems to suit the University of Miami baseball team quite well. The Hurricanes used the fans’ support to take the three-game series against archrival Florida, two games to one.
Coming off a sweep of visiting Cincinnati, the No. 9-ranked Hurricanes moved to 5-1 on the season.
Strong pitching by Eric Erickson and consistent hitting helped the Canes take the first two games. Erickson carried a perfect game into the sixth inning Friday night and struck out nine batters en route to his second win in as many starts.
Although the scores were similar, Saturday’s come-from-behind victory was much more dramatic. Leftfielder Dave DiNatale and first baseman Yonder Alonso each hit two-run doubles, with DiNatale putting the Hurricanes up for good, as Miami erased two three-run deficits to win 8-5. Tekotte, Weeks and Alonso went a combined 5-for-13 to pace the Miami offense, as they have done all year long.
“The middle of the lineup has been hitting very well so far, and Blake and Jemile have also been hitting great,” head coach Jim Morris said.
Saturday’s win marked the first time since 2004 that the Hurricanes have won a series against Florida. The Gators took two out of three from Miami last season in Gainesville.
Miami sent out highly-touted freshman pitcher Chris Hernandez for the series finale Sunday, and he did not disappoint. Like Erickson, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, only to have it broken up by a base hit off the bat of Gator centerfielder Matt den Dekker. A Cole Figueroa grand slam proved to be the difference, with Florida winning 6-2.
Hernandez struck out seven in his six innings and allowed one earned run. In his two starts, Hernandez has given up only one earned run in 12 innings this season and sports a stellar .75 earned run average.
The bullpen, however, failed to neutralize the Gators. Junior transfer P.J. Fisher surrendered the grand slam, and sophomore Alex Koronis – making his first appearance of the season – took the loss. When asked why he chose not to use his workhorse relievers Bellamy and Gutierrez, Morris said that their arms were tired after repeated use early this season.
“We didn’t play well enough,” he said. “We made some physical and mental mistakes.”
The Hurricanes will look to continue their early-season success at home this week, when they welcome Lehigh on Tuesday night. They will open ACC play next weekend with three games against Boston College at Mark Light Field.
After opening the season with five straight wins, Morris still contends that losing the last game to the Gators will stick with the team until their next games.
“I felt really good after the first two games,” Morris said. “But the way we played today leaves a bad taste.”
Jon Moss may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.