The University of Miami Hurricanes came out flat the first half of a three-game series against their arch rival, the Florida State Seminoles, in front of three capacity crowds. But for head coach Jim Morris and his squad, it was not how they started, but rather how they finished.
No. 7 UM (23-8, 10-5) won the final two games of the three-game set against No. 23 FSU (18-10, 7-6) at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field after dropping the opener Friday night.
“It’s always great to beat FSU,” Morris said with a smile. “This was by far the least controversial FSU vs. Miami series. I am just glad we could get two wins out of it.”
In the first 14.5 innings of this weekend, the Hurricanes seemed lifeless as they were outscored 18 to 5 and out-hit 23 to 9. Friday night starter junior David Gutierrez was not able to make it out of the first inning as he surrendered three home runs to the first four Seminole batters. FSU blasted seven home runs Friday, the most UM has given up in one game in over a decade, en route to a 14-4 drubbing of the Canes.
The Hurricane bats were stagnant for the first five innings of Saturday’s contest as they failed to record a hit. That all changed the third time through the batting order as the Hurricanes tallied five hits and five runs in the sixth inning, recording their 15th come-from-behind victory of the year as they defeated FSU 6-4.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth and still without a hit, the Hurricanes showed their resiliency. Junior second baseman Scott Lawson walked to lead off the frame. The ensuing batter, junior first baseman Jason Hagerty, continued his hot hitting as he belted his sixth home run of the season to cut the deficit to one.
Later in the inning, freshman third baseman Harold Martinez and sophomore catcher Yasmani Grandal hit back-to-back singles. Freshman pinch hitter Ted Blackman singled sharply to right field. FSU right fielder D’Vontrey Richardson charged the ball but looked up for a split second and the ball rolled under his glove and trickled all the way to the wall. Blackman hustled around the bases and ended up scoring on the single and the three base error.
“I was not trying to do too much,” Blackman said of the game-winning hit. “I was just trying to stay calm. When I saw [the ball] get through the hole I was pumped because I knew we were going to score a run. But when I was rounding first I saw the ball go through his legs, and I just kept running and got real excited.”
Sophomore Chris Hernandez had his best performance of the season as he pitched 6.2 innings and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts. Junior closer Kyle Bellamy recorded his eighth save of the season as he struck out five of the seven batters he faced.
“It feels good to be back out there showing my colors,” said Hernandez, who was pushed back in to the rotation this weekend. “I knew I was throwing strikes and beating hitters and that felt really good.”
Hernandez said that he was able to pick up on some tendencies he noticed from FSU hitters as he was observing from the dugout.
“I was able to learn Friday night,” Hernandez said. “I noticed I was able to beat them [inside] with two strikes and I did that.”
The Canes won 14-8 Sunday behind another solid pitching performance from sophomore starter Iden Nazario. The Hurricanes hit two grand slams in a game for the first time since 2003. Martinez launched a grand slam in the first inning and Grandal did the same in the second inning. The Canes led 10-1 by the bottom of the second.
Martinez finished the series 7-for-12 with three homers and six RBIs.
The Hurricanes next game is Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against FAU at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. That game can be heard on 90.5 FM WVUM.