Hot-hitting Canes improve to 7-0

Zach Beeker//The Miami Hurricane

In baseball, sometimes you’re lucky, and other times you’re just plain better than the team in the other dugout. That was the case for Miami over the weekend.

The University of Miami baseball team used a combination of dominating pitching performances, timely hitting and poor fielding from the University at Albany Great Danes to outscore its opponent from upstate New York 38-10 in a three-game sweep at Alex Rodriguez Park.

Miami improved to 7-0 to begin the year, and is now the only team in the ACC with an undefeated record.

“We’re deeper and better as a team right now offensively than we were last year,” said coach Jim Morris, whose Hurricanes had a 4-3 record at through seven games last season. “That’s something that’s going to help us, having our pitching back to mix with that offense. I feel like we have a better club.”

On Friday night Erik Erickson was masterful on the mound in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery.  The lefty graduate student pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up just four hits while striking out nine. At one point, he struck out five straight.

“I had my off-speed working tonight. I was locating my pitches and just attacking the hitters aggressively,” Erickson said after the game. He improved to 2-0.

Erickson’s backstop, Peter O’Brien, continued to impress in his second series as a Hurricane. The senior transfer from Bethune-Cookman went 3 for 7 over the weekend, including a two-run homerun on Friday, his third of the young season. O’Brien finished the series with 6 RBI’s.

Last season, Miami went through a power slump as a team, but the ball has been carrying out of the park early on. The Canes now have seven homeruns through as many games, while they had just three at this time last season. Morris readily admitted where credit is due.

“We didn’t have Magilla Gorrilla behind the plate in 2011. He can swing the bat,” he said of O’Brien, referencing the 1960’s Hannah-Barbera cartoon. O’Brien now has a .519 batting average to go along with a team-high nine RBI’s.

Saturday night brought much of the same for the Hurricanes. Junior Eric Whaley struck out six through six innings, giving up one unearned run. The righty earned his first win in an 11-1 thumping.

Unlike the first two games of the series, Sunday’s victory provided some late-inning drama for Miami. Sophomore Bryan Radziewski tossed six innings, working in and out of trouble throughout the afternoon. He handed the ball over to the bullpen with Miami up 6-2.

After AJ Salcines pitched a scoreless seventh, sophomore relief pitcher Javi Salas surrendered three runs, two earned, in the top of the eighth to cut Miami’s lead to a slim one-run at 6-5. Salas was taken out of the game after only recording one out, but junior Eric Nedeljkovic finished the inning to keep Miami’s lead intact.

The Hurricanes then responded in a big way in the bottom of the eighth, batting around the order and scoring six runs off of three Albany relief pitchers.

With the bases loaded and no one out Brad Fieger popped up to catcher Craig Lepre, and in stepped Michael Broad. The junior shortstop lined a bases clearing double into left field putting Miami up 9-5, securing Radziewski’s first win and the series sweep for the Hurricanes. Miami would score three more runs in the inning on the way to a 12-5 victory.