Baseball is back in Coral Gables, but with a slightly different look.
The Hurricanes opened up the 2011 season against Rutgers over the weekend, winning two out of three games. But Miami showcased a brand new starting rotation and new NCAA regulation bats.
“The game’s changed, and I don’t think it will ever change back,” said head coach Jim Morris, commenting on the new style of aluminum bats, which are designed to cut down on offensive production and speed up the game pace throughout college baseball.
“This standard is pretty close to a standard of a wood bat,” Morris said.
Offense was certainly at a premium for both squads during the entire series.
The first two games went into extra innings, with the Canes winning the Friday night opener by a score of 2-1 and falling in the Saturday night contest 6-5. The games went 11 and 10 innings respectively. It was the first time since 1993 that Miami played back-to-back extra inning games.
The rubber match of the series did not go into extra frames but was still close, with Miami winning 5-3.
Overall the Hurricanes’ starting pitching was solid.
True freshman Bryan Radziewski took the mound on opening night for Miami. It was the first time in Morris’ 18 years as the Hurricanes’ head coach that a freshman started on Friday night, the night usually designated for a team’s ace.
He did not regret his decision.
The lefty struck out eight batters in six innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run in a no decision.
“I wasn’t panicking too much about how [it was my] first time pitching,” Radziewski said.
Miami ended up winning in extras, but the game ended in bizarre fashion.
With the score tied at one in the bottom of the 11th inning sophomore Zeke DeVoss drilled a triple to right-centerfield. Sophomore Stephen Perez came to the plate next and hit a deep fly ball to left field that drifted well into foul territory.
Instead of letting the ball drop to avoid giving DeVoss the chance to tag up and score the walk-off run, Rutgers sophomore left fielder Steve Zavala caught the ball in foul territory.
DeVoss tagged up and scored the winning run easily.
“I’m surprised he caught the ball,” Morris said. “That’s a mental mistake.”
On Saturday night sophomore EJ Encinosa took the mound for Miami for only his second collegiate start, while sophomore starting pitcher Eric Whaley finished off the series for Miami on Sunday.
Both pitchers posted solid outings.
Encinosa was masterful through the first five innings, holding the Scarlet Knights hitless, but ran out of steam in the sixth, giving up three earned runs in a no decision.
Whaley was the only Hurricanes’ starter to earn a victory over the weekend, going five and two-thirds innings while giving up three earned runs.
Miami will play its first road game of the season on Wednesday against Florida Atlantic and will return home to Coral Gables for a three-game series against Appalachian State, starting on Thursday night.
Adam Berger may be contacted at email@example.com.