History fails to repeat itself in weekend Tallahassee series

Devon Travis slaps the tag on sophomore Nathan Melendres as the Florida State Seminoles host the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium. Glenn Beil // Tallahassee Democrat

This may sting for quite some time.

When tempers flared on the field at Dick Howser Stadium two years ago after the No. 1 Miami clinched a series victory against No. 2 Florida State, the historic rivalry was sparked with a new surge of energy.

Upon their return to Tallahassee, however, the Canes were unable to repeat their past success, losing the final two games against the No. 6 Seminoles in heartbreaking fashion and dropping their second straight road series.

The Hurricanes (29-11, 15-6 ACC) overcame a rough start from junior lefty Chris Hernandez on Friday night, taking the series opener 6-5. Laboring through just over three innings of work, Hernandez was pulled after allowing four earned runs early in the game.  Six Miami relievers combined for shutdown baseball the rest of the game, allowing only two hits and one earned run to the Seminoles (31-10, 14-7 ACC).

Offensively, the Hurricanes were led by junior Chris Pelaez who broke out of a slump going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Sophomore Harold Martinez hit his team leading 13th home run of the season.

Seminole junior left fielder and part-time relief pitcher Mike McGee hit two home runs in the opener, a harbinger of things to come from one of the ACC’s most dangerous players.

After a taxing six innings of work in the opener, the bullpen could have utilized a day of rest and a strong start from junior lefty Eric Erickson in Saturday’s afternoon match-up. Unfortunately, they had neither. Erickson only managed four innings in his start, facing 14 batters before departing.

Closer Daniel Miranda, the sixth reliever of the day for the Canes, failed to record an out in the ninth inning, allowing a walk-off, bases loaded double to Seminole junior outfielder Tyler Holt in an 8-7 loss.

Holding a commanding 7-3 lead entering the bottom of the eighth, the Hurricanes looked well on their way to a series-clinching win. Freshman reliever Eric Whaley loaded the bases before handing the ball to senior Taylor Wulf, who promptly allowed a two-run double to tighten the game to 7-5.

Miranda entered the game and allowed the third and final run of the inning on a wild pitch, turning the contest into a one-run affair. After stranding two runners in the top of the ninth, the Hurricanes endured another late-game meltdown by the bullpen that has seemed to define the season.

Despite out hitting the Seminoles 13-to-9, the Hurricanes left 12 men on base and failed to capitalize on numerous chances. The bottom half of the order was a magnificent 9-for-18 with six RBI, but even they could not bail out a bullpen that allowed six runs in just over four innings of work. Miami’s bullpen allowed a walk-off hit to a Seminole outfielder for the second straight game in a 7-6 loss, blowing the chance for a crucial series victory in Sunday’s series finale.

McGee dealt the crippling blow this time around, smoking a two-run home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning while simultaneously earning his second victory of the year as a pitcher in his 1.2 innings of work.

The Canes got off to a hot start for the second straight game, hitting three solo home runs in the top of the first inning en route to an early 3-0 lead. After a rough second inning from righty starter Jason Santana tied the game at three runs apiece, the Canes eventually held a 6-3 after a two-run homerun from freshman Zeke DeVoss.

After the strongest performance of the weekend from a Hurricane starter by Santana (6 IP, 4 ER), sophomore reliever Sam Robinson and the senior Wulf combined to blow the game for the Hurricanes, allowing two earned runs in their brief late-game stints, including the game-ending two-run home run by Wulf.

The Hurricanes begin a seven-game home stand starting Tuesday against Saint Thomas.

Camron Ghorbi may be contacted at cghorbi@themiamihurricane.com.