Baseball sweeps first series

The University of Miami baseball team clinched its first series of 2005 against High Point with a dramatic 7-6 11th inning victory Saturday night at Mark Light Field in front of 2,153 fans.

“This was a very good game,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “Both teams played hard, and their starter was topping 96 mph. We were lucky to come out on top tonight.”

High Point scored quickly, taking an early lead in the first inning. Already ahead 1-0, second baseman Dustin Holtzman tripled to right field with runners already on first and third base to put the Panthers up by three runs.

The Hurricanes answered back with an even more explosive first inning of their own. Left fielder Jon Jay was walked by Eammon Portice, followed by singles from right fielder Brendan Katin and shortstop Roger Tomas and a double off the left field wall by Danny Valencia. Tomas capped the inning off by scoring on a wild pitch to give the ‘Canes a 5-3 lead after one.

Both starting pitchers settled down after what appeared to be the makings for a double-digit slugfest. The Panthers’ Jeremy Neyra knocked in Matt Christie with a single in the top of the second to keep the Panthers within a run for most of the game. Camardese would pitch three scoreless innings afterward and strike out five before being replaced by Vince Bongiovanni.

In the bottom of the seventh, Paco Figueroa stepped up, blasting a home run over the left-field fence to give Miami a 6-4 lead. The Panthers tied the game with a two-run homer to left from designated hitter Josh Cotten.

While Morris was pleased with his team’s resilience in the win, he did voice some concerns.

“The great thing about a game like this is that it tells you what you need to work on,” Morris said. “Of course, we need to work on sac bunting, particularly with the younger guys.”

The game was decided in the 11th inning when Figueroa hit a high chopper into left field to drive in Alex Garabedian for the 7-6 outcome.

Figueroa was obviously pleased, not only with his performance but that of the overall team.

“It feels great to do anything to help our team win, and this is a big win for us,” Figueroa said. “We’ve got to build on this win.”

The outcome was markedly different from Friday night, when the ‘Canes dismantled the Panthers 12-5. Morris said that Saturday’s game made his team better.

“These games put us under pressure situations, and it lets you see which guys step up whether it’s the NCAA tournament or the College World Series,” he said.

The ‘Canes’ Chris Perez earned his first win in Sunday’s outing, which Miami won 10-1 to complete the sweep.

Mike Soto can be contacted at