The Hurricanes opened the 2016 season just as they have the last eight seasons: with a win. Almost every player contributed in Miami’s 4-1 win over Rutgers on Opening Day in front of a packed crowd at Mark Light Field Friday night.
“For us I thought it was a solid team game. We played good defense. A lot of guys got big hits for us. [Thomas Woodrey] pitched well. The bullpen came in and did their job. That’s the way we play the game, to be honest with you,” Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said. “I’m very excited the way a lot of the guys played. It was a good team-win for us.
Junior catcher Zack Collins went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but the team was just fine even without his potent bat. Junior Willie Abreu powered the Canes with an RBI single in the first and a home run to left in the fourth to put Miami up 2-1.
“Anytime you can run into one it’s a pretty good feeling,” Abreu said of his home run.
Senior starting pitcher Thomas Woodrey opened the game retiring the first six hitters, but then gave up a solo homer to John Jennings. Woodrey got the win as he and three relievers combined to blank Rutgers (0-1) the rest of the way.
Freshman Romy Gonzalez just missed getting a home run for his first career hit in the bottom of the fifth. The first-year third baseman out of American Senior High lined a double off the left field wall in his second career at-bat. Junior first baseman Christopher Barr brought Gonzalez in with a sac fly to left field.
“I thought I had it for a second, but the wind. It’s hard to beat the wind. I’m not as big as Willie, so it’s hard to take it out,” Gonzalez said of just missing a home run. “But it was a great feeling to finally get on base for my team and get my first big hit out of the way.”
Another freshman, Frankie Bartow, relieved Woodrey in the sixth. Miami’s starter left with a solid line of four strikeouts, four hits, a walk and one run allowed in five innings. Bartow threw two shutout innings in his first appearance, only giving up one hit and one walk.
After a breezy top of the eighth from junior setup reliever Cooper Hammond, the Canes scored their final run on a sac-fly by junior shortstop Johnny Ruiz to bring in fellow junior left fielder Jacob Heyward.
Trailing by three runs heading to the ninth is never a good idea against Miami. Junior and Preseason All-America closer Bryan Garcia took over for Hammond to secure the win for the Canes (1-0) and get his first save of the year. Garcia served as Miami’s closer his first two seasons on the team.
The Canes have now won 12 in a row and are 18-2 overall in seven season-opening series against the Scarlet Knights since 2009. Sophomore pitcher Michael Mediavilla will start in tomorrow night’s game against Rutgers at 7 p.m. back at the Light.