After a rain soaked one hour and 35 minute delay, the Miami Hurricane baseball team took the field against Northwestern in an affair which saw the ‘Canes come from behind to beat the Wildcats 5-3 on Tuesday night in front of a die hard crowd at Mark Light Stadium.
Since the season began, UM senior left fielder Brad Safchik has quietly worked his way into the starting lineup and has contributed on a regular basis.
In the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game with two outs, the Gulliver Prep graduate went about his business, and simply blasted the go ahead and eventual game winning two-run triple deep into the caverns of right center field.
“It’s great to be able to contribute night after night,” said Safchik. “This is a terrific program and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Safchik told of his eighth inning heroics in a very modest and businesslike fashion.
“I knew I had to get a base hit,” said Safchik.
Safchik’s style of play has been paralleled by most of the team of late. After a miserable start for the defending NCAA champions, the ‘Canes have managed to put together a five-game win streak, and yet nobody really stands out among the players as being the star or the hero.
The ‘Canes are playing like a team and winning like a team.
UM starting pitching has been solid, producing a lot of innings and allowing the bullpen to stay fresh and ready. They have responded with near flawless outings night after night.
“I really believe in the bullpen,” said Hurricane coach Jim Morris. “For the young kids, it’s a matter of just getting them out there into these situations night after night and getting them comfortable with their roles.”
Hurricanes starting pitcher Kiki Bengochea had what could have been his best outing of the season. It was his longest, going six and 2/3 innings giving up three runs and four hits including two walks and four strikeouts. A long three run home run given up to Northwestern first baseman Travis Tharp was just about the only blemish on Bengochea’s evening, who left the game with a no decision.
“I think Kiki pitched extremely well tonight,” said Morris. “There is no doubt about it.”
The Hurricane defense is starting to come together as well. UM senior, Matt Dryer, has been an infielder’s best friend on first base, coming up with several nice scoops, nullifying what would be several Miami throwing errors.
Dryer also made his mark in the offensive category in the second inning when he took Wildcat starter Dan Pohlman deep off of the scoreboard sitting over top of the left field wall at the Light to narrow the Wildcat lead to 3-1.
UM was able to capitalize on several Wildcat mishaps to tie the score at three before Safchik’s heroics in the eighth.
The game marked the continuation of the team’s five game winning streak, although it served as an end to two career long hitting streaks by UM catcher and designated hitter, Danny Matienzo, and for ‘Canes’ third baseman Kevin Howard.
“It probably takes some of the pressure off of them going into some of our bigger games,” said Morris. “But I would like to see these guys hit every night as much as they can.”
The bigger games consist of next weekend’s series against Elon College, Jim Morris’s Alma Matter, who will come to Mark Light boasting a record of 15-4.
“These games mean something to me personally,” said Morris. “Elon was a very special place to me.”
After Elon, it only gets harder for the ‘Canes as they have a home and home set of three games series against arch rival FSU.
Friday night’s game against Elon is scheduled for 7pm at the Light.