The bats didn’t do much on Saturday night for the No. 6 Hurricanes, but sophomore pitcher Michael Mediavilla made up for that with a terrific outing in the first start of his career. The Hialeah native threw seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings as Miami beat Rutgers 2-0 at Mark Light Field to start the season 2-0.
Mediavilla, a reliever last year, easily blew by his previous career highs for innings (2.1) and strikeouts (four) in his first start while giving up just three hits and zero walks. The lefty only allowed one Scarlet Knight to reach scoring position.
“It felt great. Just going out there today and starting, which has been a dream since I was a little kid, it was a great, humbling feeling when I went out there,” Mediavilla said. “I just went in with the same mentality as if I come out of the bullpen, and it worked out great today.”
Freshman Frankie Bartow was again the first reliever out of the bullpen for Miami, taking over for Mediavilla in the seventh. Bartow gave way to junior setup man Cooper Hammond, who went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. Junior Bryan Garcia again closed the game for his second save with two strikeouts and a fly ball out.
The only scare of the night came in the top of the third when Rutger’s Milo Freeman appeared to crush a home run over the left field wall. The ball hooked just foul, but Mediavilla didn’t even want to look up as the ball left Freeman’s bat.
“I saw it going and I just looked down. I didn’t even want to see if it was fair or foul. Leave it up to the umpires,” Mediavilla said.
The Canes took the lead in the fifth on an RBI single from sophomore center fielder Carl Chester. Chester drove in freshman third baseman Romy Gonzalez, who doubled to left field to lead off the inning. Gonzalez now has two hits in his Canes career, both doubles to left field.
Miami only had six hits in the game, but the team also drew six walks, including three from junior catcher Zack Collins. After a tough 0-for-4 performance with two strikeouts on Opening Day, Collins reached base in all four of his at bats Saturday night. Collins got his first of the season in the third with a single to right along with the three walks.
“Just swing at strikes [was my approach]. That’s what I always try to do. Whether it’s walking or hitting a home run, I just try to swing at strikes,” Collins said.
Collins provided an insurance run for the Canes in the eighth after reaching first with his third walk of the night. Following the walk, centerfielder Jawuan Harris dropped a fly ball hit by junior left fielder Jason Heyward, giving the Canes two runners in scoring position.
After an intentional walk to junior outfielder Willie Abreu, fellow junior shortstop Johnny Ruiz drove in Collins with a line drive to left field. The Canes ended the inning with the bases loaded, but Garcia had all the support he would need to finish off the game.
“It’s a big win for us. I thought we played well and tomorrow our hitters need to pick us up,” Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said. “We played well these first two games. Good teams sweep when they have a chance, particularly when they’re at home.”
The Canes finish their series against Rutgers (0-2) at noon on Sunday at Mark Light Field.