The Florida Gators have had their way with the Hurricanes, of late.
Sixteen of the past 18 matchups had gone UF’s way, including 13 of the last 14 overall. Florida repeatedly crushed Miami’s postseason hopes over the last few years.
But the Canes, ranked No. 11 in the nation, reversed the trend with two big wins this weekend before they fell to the Gators again on Sunday.
In winning the series over No. 16 Florida, Miami improved to 4-3 this season.
On Friday and Saturday, Miami displayed considerable power at the plate. Dale Carey, Willie Abreu and Garrett Kennedy all homered during the series opener, their first long balls of the year.
Their offense helped the Canes overcome an early 3-0 deficit and earn a win for starter Chris Diaz.
The junior improved to 2-0 in his first two appearances, lasting seven innings on Friday. He settled down after surrendering three runs in the first frame.
“Chris pitched a very good game,” coach Jim Morris said. “He didn’t fold up and go home. He kept battling and pitched great after that.”
Abreu, a freshman, gave the Hurricanes the lead in the third inning. His home run barely cleared the left-field wall, and Abreu wasn’t sure the ball got out.
“I really had no idea,” he said. “I was running as fast as I could around the bases trying to get to home plate. I saw the guy on the floor, so I just kept going. I heard the noise and everyone scream … it was a good feeling.”
Miami held on to win 6-4.
The Canes clinched the series with a 5-2 victory on Saturday in front of more than 4,000 fans at Mark Light Field.
Kennedy connected on another home run as Miami freshman Cooper Hammond earned his first win on the mound in relief of Bryan Radziewski.
“Our hard work in the weight room with our new strength coach is really paying off for us,” Kennedy said after he went deep on consecutive nights. “We’re not trying to hit it out, we’re just putting good swings on it and the ball is carrying.
Radziewski, the Hurricanes’ junior ace, lasted 5.2 innings and gave up two earned runs.
“I thought it was a pretty good team effort. It was a big win,” Morris said. “We had a lot of guys do some good things. Our pitching was very good. Radziewski pitched good, but our whole bullpen did a good job.”
Tyler Palmer went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Zack Collins cracked a three-run homer for his first collegiate hit.
On Sunday, the Gators avoided a sweep after they jumped on Miami starter Andrew Suarez with a four-run first inning. Florida scored twice more in the fourth, and the Canes could not recover.
Miami dropped the finale 6-4.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a weekend series in Tallahassee with another in-state rival, the FSU Seminoles.