After the Hurricanes were shut out by Logan Shore on Friday night, the Gators trotted out the potential No. 1 pick in the next MLB draft on Saturday in junior left-hander A.J. Puk. He lasted 2 2/3 innings in his first loss of the season. Led by junior catcher Zack Collins, the No. 6 Hurricanes easily handled Puk and the No. 1 Gators 5-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,999 fans at Mark Light Field.
“It’s a big win for us, no question. Florida’s got an outstanding club. They’re just very solid throughout,” Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said. “Only thing that would be better and bigger [is] if we can win tomorrow and win the series.”
Junior shortstop Johnny Ruiz continued his hot start this year with an RBI double in the second that scored junior left fielder Jacob Heyward. Ruiz went 3-for-3 on Saturday and is now hitting .526 this season.
Collins added two more with his first of two-RBI singles to right field with the bases loaded in the third. Puk (0-1) was pulled three batters later after plunking Ruiz – Puk’s second hit-batter of the inning along with junior first baseman Chris Barr.
Collins came up with the bases loaded in the fourth and again drove in two runs with a single to right field off reliever Brady Singer.
“Just being aggressive,” Collins said of his approach at the plate. “My job is to drive in runs and fortunately I had bases loaded in two at-bats today.”
With Collins providing the offense from the plate, sophomore left-hander Michael Mediavilla locked down the Gators’ lineup from the mound. Mediavilla only allowed an RBI single to JJ Schwarz in the third in his five innings. Mediavilla, making his second career start, gave up two hits, one run and four walks to go with four strikeouts in his second win to start the season.
Freshman reliever Frankie Bartow came in for Mediavilla and gave up one run in 2 1/3 innings. Florida (6-1) led off the eighth back-to-back doubles by Schwarz and Peter Alonso. An RBI-groundout by Jeremy Vasquez scored Schwarz and ended Bartow’s night. Junior setup reliever Cooper Hammond came in to finish the eighth.
Hammond struck out the first two batters but then gave up a double to Dalton Guthrie. Junior closer Bryan Garcia came in for Hammond and gave up a bloop-single to Buddy Reed that scored Guthrie, but then struck out Schwarz to end the game.
The Canes (5-1) snapped a four-game losing streak to the Gators (6-1) and handed Florida its first loss of the season.
The Canes finish the series against the Gators at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Mark Light Field.