Baseball: Back on track

After suffering two straight losses against Mercer to begin the season, the Miami Hurricanes (3-2) baseball team used strong starting pitching and a thrilling comeback victory for a series sweep against the UCLA Bruins (2-4).

In the opening game of the series, redshirt junior lefthander Scott Maine and freshman southpaw Eric Erickson combined for a four-hit shutout in a nailbiting 1-0 victory.

Maine (1-0) went five strong innings and struck out five. The lefthander remained poised after allowing a leadoff triple in the top of the fourth inning, retiring three straight batters without a run to score.

“If the guys aren’t scoring runs and the other pitcher is throwing really well, you got to step up to his level and perform just as good and keep zeros on the board,” Maine said.

Miami then turned to untested freshman Eric Erickson for the final four innings. The Sarasota native was resilient, working out of mini-jams in the top of the sixth and ninth innings.

Erickson struck out Brady Dolan with a runner on third and two outs in the ninth to earn his first career save.

Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso, who had a dominant series offensively, drove in the lone run on a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Miami scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday for a 9-8 comeback win.

Despite the comeback, the bullpen once again struggled and nearly cost Miami the game.

The Hurricanes blew a 6-4 lead in the eighth, as freshman right-hander Michel Rudman failed to record an out, allowing three hits and two earned runs.

With the teams tied 6-6 in the ninth, Miami freshman right-hander Anthony Nalepa had a rocky debut, giving up back-to-back homeruns to Bruins shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Tim Stewart.

Miami used timely hitting against Bruins closer Brant Rustich (0-2) in the ninth inning.

With runners on first and second, Alonso, who was 4-for-4 with two homeruns and four RBIs, singled to centerfield to cut the lead to a run.

Freshman Mark Sobolewsi followed with his biggest hit as a Hurricane, a double to leftfield which plated Jackson to tie the board 8-8. After Raben grounded out, Gus Menendez hit a game wining single to leftfield for the dramatic victory.

“This is a huge win for us and complete team win,” Alonso said. “We put the ball in play in the late innings and it worked out for us.”

Manny Miguelez (0-0) had his second straight solid outing Sunday in a 7-3 victory. Miguelez had another no-decision despite pitching seven innings and allowing two runs.

With Miami leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth, Bruins leftfielder Justin Uribe hit a solo homerun to leftfield off junior closer Enrique Garcia (1-1), who blew his second save of the season.

Miami responded in the bottom of the eighth, beginning with a double by sophomore Denis Raben. With the bases loaded and one out, Rustich threw a wild pitch with catcher Jason Hagerty at the plate that allowed the go-ahead run to score.

Miami pushed across three additional runs to secure the win.

“That was a great comeback on Saturday and today the same thing,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “It shows a lot from the backbone of your team to do that.”

Alex Kushel may be contacted at