Takeaways from Miami baseball’s opening series

The Miami Hurricanes put their hands on their chests during the national anthem before the series finale against Rutgers Feb. 18 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Josh White
Miami Baseball
The Miami Hurricanes put their hands on their chests during the national anthem before the series finale against Rutgers Feb. 18 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Josh White

The 2018 college baseball season kicked off Feb. 16 in Coral Gables for No. 24 Miami. The Hurricanes took two of three from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Mark Light Field.

Here are three takeaways from the opening series:

1. Orange and green fit Danny Reyes

The former Florida Gator outfielder feasted on the Rutgers’ pitching staff in his first series at Miami.

Reyes batted .727 (8-for-11), including one home run and four doubles.

The home run was the first blast the Miami Springs native hit at the Division 1 level since June 4, 2016, after Reyes spent the 2017 season at Broward College.

The junior also tallied four RBIs, a .692 OBP and a 1.364 SLG in three starts.

“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.”

2. The “Fab 5” is good but inexperienced

Miami’s highly-touted, all-freshman infield showed flashes during the opening weekend but also made rookie mistakes.

Catcher Michael Amditis, who played seven games last season before redshirting after breaking his left leg, hit .417 (5-for-12) with one double and two RBIs. The Boca Raton native also threw out two Scarlet Knights trying to steal.

Alex Toral, the No. 2 ranked freshman by Perfect Game, connected for a home run and a double while driving in five runs in the opening series. Toral also drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, reaching base six times in his first 12 plate appearances, accounting for a .500 OBP.

“Honestly, [Serafino Brito] was throwing a lot of sliders in my first at-bat,” Toral said. “I was going into my second at-bat seeing slider, and I got a good piece of it.”

The Archbishop McCarthy product became the first Hurricane to blast a home run for his first collegiate hit since Zack Collins in 2014. The two are the only Canes to accomplish the feat since MLB All-Star Yonder Alonso in 2006.

Willy Escala and Freddy Zamora flashed the leather up the middle but failed to swing the bat well. The duo combined for three hits. Raymond Gil also had a quiet series with two hits – one being a double – and six strikeouts.

3. Starting pitchers struggle

On Opening Day, UM’s ace Jeb Bargfeldt (1-0, 1.80 ERA), an All-ACC Second Team honoree in 2017, held Rutgers to one run but did not look like himself.

“As far as command wise, I feel like it wasn’t my greatest game, but at the same time, I battled,” Bargfeldt said. “I had a changeup and an away fastball for most part of the game. For me, I have to stay on, attacking hitters and not worrying about if I missed a pitch. It was a good one to build off of and get better every time.”

Greg Veliz (0-0, 6.00 ERA), the Canes’ highest-rated draft-eligible prospect according to D1 Baseball, lacked control. The sophomore gave up two runs and issued five walks over three innings. The hard-throwing right-hander got off to a rocky start, throwing 48 pitches in the first inning.

Evan McKendry (0-1, 10.80 ERA) started off strong, striking out seven of the first 10 batters he faced. However, once Miami’s defense botched routine grounders, the wheels fell off for McKendry. The sophomore hurler surrendered seven runs – four of which were earned – and was lifted after 3 1/3 innings.