Zack Collins picked a pretty good time to hit his first home run of the season. And his second. The junior catcher hit a pair of home runs to power the No. 6 Hurricanes past Florida Gulf Coast 6-2 in front of 2,289 fans at Mark Light Field on Wednesday night.
Collins didn’t have an extra base hit coming into the game, let alone a home run, but he smashed two opposite-field homers to left for the team’s first three runs. Collins put the Canes up 1-0 with a solo shot in the first and followed that up with a two-run blast in the fifth for his fourth-career multi-home run game.
“They weren’t careful enough tonight,” Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said of pitchers throwing cautiously to Collins this season. “I moved Johnny [Ruiz] behind him. He’s been our hottest hitter up to this point, so I flipped him behind [Collins] to try to protect him some, where he would get possibly some better pitches to hit. He saw better pitches today.”
Sophomore right-hander Jesse Lepore (1-0) struck out a career-high seven batters in his second start as a Cane and first win. Lepore’s only blemish in his 5.2 innings of work was a two-run home run by Tyler Selesky in the top of the third.
“It felt great finally getting that win off. Everything just kind of clicked today,” Lepore said. “[It was] definitely a lot easier [than the first start]. Not that like nerves had anything to do with the first one, but just going in with confidence. It definitely felt good on the mound.”
Right-handed reliever Frankie Bartow came in for Lepore with two outs in the sixth and retired the next four batters in just 11 pitches. The true freshman has given up just one run and five hits in 8.2 innings coming out of the bullpen this season. Bartow and junior relievers Cooper Hammond and Bryan Garcia retired the final 10 Eagles (2-6) in a row to end the game.
While Miami’s first three runs came from the team’s power hitter, the Canes used small ball to add an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Junior third baseman Edgar Michelangeli led off the inning with a walk and scored following a sacrifice bunt, an infield single and a soft grounder to the shortstop by junior first baseman Chris Barr.
The Canes (6-2) added two more in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run double by Michelangeli to left field. That was plenty for Garcia, who struck out the side in the top of the ninth following Hammond’s quick work in the eighth.
The Canes next play Manhattan in the first of a three-game series at 7 p.m. on Friday at Mark Light Field.