Danny Reyes is expected to be in the heart of Miami’s lineup in his first season in Coral Gables.
And for good reason.
The former Florida Gator homered, doubled and drove in three runs in his Hurricane debut to lead Miami past Rutgers 7-1 in the season opener on Feb. 16 at Mark Light Field.
“It was great to have Danny Reyes in the lineup,” coach Jim Morris said. “He led our team in hitting in the fall. He led our team in hitting in the preseason. He led our team in home runs so this is what we expected. He can really hit and he’s a fun guy to watch up at the plate.”
The home run was the first blast Reyes hit at the Division I level since June 4, 2016, after the Miami Springs native spent the 2017 season at Broward College.
“I’m truly blessed to be here and be a Hurricane,” Reyes said. “I’m just excited. The nerves were running a little high going into it. That’s normal to me. Once I got the first hit, I felt right at home. I felt good, ready to go, and ready to compete.”
Senior left-handed ace Jeb Bargfeldt (1-0) scattered six hits and allowed one run over five innings. He struck out five and walked one. It was the 13th start out of 16 in his UM career he has allowed two runs or less.
“As far as command wise, I feel like it wasn’t my greatest game, but at the same time, I battled, I had a changeup and an away fastball for most part of the game,” Bargfeldt said. “For me, I have to stay on, attacking hitters and not worry about if I missed a pitch, but let’s make the pitch … It was a good one to build off of and get better every time.”
Junior outfielder Luke Bowerbank opened up the scoring for Rutgers (0-1) with a two-out RBI-single in the second inning.
However, the No. 24 Canes (1-0) quickly answered back. Reyes led off the bottom half of the frame with a double off the right-field fence.
Then, Michael Burns and Raymond Gil drew back-to-back walks to load the bases.
With the bases full in his first career plate appearance, highly touted freshman first basemen Alex Toral was hit by a pitch to earn his first career RBI.
The Canes would tally two more after a Michael Amditis fielders’ choice and a sac fly off the bat of Freddy Zamora to take a 3-1 advantage.
An inning later, Reyes added to Miami’s lead.
The junior outfielder crushed Rutgers’ starting pitcher John O’Reilly’s pitched over the fence in left-center for a two-run home run putting UM in front 5-1.
The Hurricanes would tack on two more runs in the fourth inning, which would be enough for Miami’s pitching staff.
The victory marked Morris improved to 22-3 in season openers at Miami, with the Hurricanes winning 11 straight dating back to 2008.
While it may have seemed like an ordinary Opening Day to fans in attendance, Friday’s game marked Morris’ final season opener as Miami’s coach after 24 years at the helm of the Canes.
“I’m trying not to think about it too much, to be honest, because it is emotional,” the two-time National Champion coach said. “This is something I’ve been doing my entire life and it seems like I’ve been here my whole career…I’ve been here a long time and I’m very appreciative of the fact I got to come to Miami and got an opportunity to coach at a place like this where you have an opportunity to win. That’s all you want to do.”
For the first time in Morris’ tenure at UM, he started an all-freshman infield. The inexperienced defense dazzled the Mark Light Mob with web-gems inning after inning.
The Hurricanes will look to take a 2-0 series lead over the Scarlet Knights on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Mark Light Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.