In a matchup where most of the fireworks came from the explosive display after the game rather than either offense, the outcome came down to mistakes. Rutgers made several, including three errors, while the University of Miami was unblemished, cruising to a comfortable season-opening triumph 3-0 over the visiting Scarlet Knights.
The junior right-handed pitcher Jesse Lepore got the opening-night start for Miami, and he made the most of it – tossing six scoreless-innings. Lepore struck out seven, while allowing a mere two hits to Rutgers on 84 pitches. He was in command all night, throwing strikes on two-thirds of his pitches and not surrendering a single walk.
Lepore outdueled opposing starter John O’Reilly. O’Reilly allowed only three hits across his seven innings of work, but one of them was a home run, which cost the Scarlet Knights the game. O’Reilly struggled with his control at times, throwing two wild pitches and giving the Hurricanes three free-passes to first base.
After a scoreless first inning, sophomore second baseman Romy Gonzalez drove in the season’s first runs with a dinger to left field in the second inning. He scored redshirt senior third baseman Edgar Michelangeli, who had been walked to kick off the inning. Miami threatened to score again with two outs – a walk and an infield single placed runners on first and second – but a hard grounder to short ended the frame.
In the bottom of the third, a Michael Burns walk followed by two wild pitches set up a runner on third base, but the Canes couldn’t take advantage – which became a trend for much of the contest. Miami left six men stranded and couldn’t string together hits, mustering only two base-hits after the two-run, two-hit second inning.
Junior shortstop Brandon Gali was the sole player to collect multiple hits. He roped a double down the right-field line immediately following the seventh-inning stretch to pair with his second-inning single.
Rutgers finally got a man in scoring position in the fourth, but Lepore escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts in what would end up being the first of just two instances that the Scarlet Knights would get a player past first base. Rutgers had a difficult time mustering offense on Friday evening, with just three hits and a walk as its only output at the plate.
Lepore gave way to sophomore pitcher Andrew Cabezas, who walked Rutgers center-fielder Jawuan Harris in the top of the seventh. Harris stole second base and then advanced to third on a wild pitch, but a strikeout on a deadly breaking-ball followed by a grounder handled by first baseman Gregory Veliz left the Hurricanes unscathed.
Rutgers left-fielder Luke Bowerbank tried to open the scoring for his club with a leadoff single to center in the eighth, but Miami shut down the inning quickly with the pitching of Cabezas. A pop up to Gali and a strikeout sandwiched a pickoff of Bowerbank at first base.
Miami broke the six-inning scoring lull in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to the tandem of senior designated-hitter Johnny Ruiz, who led off the frame with an infield hit, and Gonzalez, who brought Ruiz home after an error on a short pop-up to second.
Sophomore pitcher Frankie Bartow closed out the game on the mound, providing no drama as he retired the Scarlet Knights in order in the final inning.
The players left the field on opening night with a shutout victory for the Canes and their fans’ cheers to bask in. The Hurricanes look to clinch the series at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Alex Rodriguez Park.