For much of Saturday’s game between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators, fans experienced déjà vu from Friday as the pitchers controlled the game and the score remained low. UM was a lone strike away from taking the game in the top of the ninth up a run, but Jud Fabian roped a line drive into the left field corner to drive in the tying run.
The Gators made Miami pay for not finishing when they could, with the visitors taking a five-run lead in the 10 th inning faster than the home fans exited Mark Light Field. The Canes did score two runs in the home half of the inning in a spirited effort, but it wasn’t enough to extend the game as the Canes fell 7-4.
“Disappointing,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Came down to the end. Can’t finish the game. Something we didn’t do very good last year, we got to do a better job. Had the game right there where we wanted it. Couldn’t close it out.”
“We just got to finish,” junior third baseman Raymond Gil said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about all year. We have to do a better job finishing.”
With freshman Alex McFarlane on the mound for the Hurricanes in a tie game in the 10th, leadoff batter Kirby McMullen belted a home run to the left field corner to give the Gators a 3-2 lead. And unlike Miami’s lead, this advantage would stand and even increase. Florida unloaded a crooked number on the Hurricanes, scoring five runs in a frame which featured four hits, including one from pitcher Ben Specht.
UM (4-2) will have one more chance to salvage something from the weekend at Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale. Regardless of that result, UF will take its sixth consecutive series win over Miami back to Gainesville.
Chris McMahon (1-0, 2.25 ERA) pitched for the Canes and got out of his first jam in the second inning, stranding three Florida runners with two big strikeouts. His day was largely successful, pitching six innings and striking out nine batters, while allowing six hits and walking two while allowing just a run. A few mid-game jams however did run up his pitch count, and the junior was forced to exit the contest and inning earlier than his Friday night counterpart, Brian Van Belle, did a night earlier.
“Our starting pitching has been excellent. [McMahon] had to work hard, getting extra outs,” DiMare said. “Our starters have thrown great, giving us a chance to win.”
That would set up the bullpen to try and finish the matchup for Miami. But Daniel Federman–a night removed from allowing the go-ahead run Friday–gave up the tying run after entering the ninth with just three outs needed to claim the victory for the Canes. McFarlane and Albert Maury subsequently gave up the losing runs in the 10 th .
Alex Toral opened the scoring for Miami with an opposite-field solo home run in the second.
Jordan Butler answered for Florida with a sacrifice fly to left to bring in Cory Acton from third base.
A big moment that came back to haunt UM was leaving the bases loaded in the sixth inning, rendering an Adrian Del Castillo single and a Gil walk fruitless. It was one of just many empty frames for the Hurricanes in the series to date, with just five runs against the Gators through two games.
Florida’s pitching was a big reason for that. Jack Leftwich took the ball and held Miami to just a run over his six innings of work, allowing four hits and striking out six batters. Christian Scott entered in the seventh for a shutout frame before Nick Pogue allowed a single run in the eighth.
“Guys got to battle more at the plate,” DiMare said. “Some of our outs are just not very tough outs. [We aren’t] making it hard on the pitcher…not going deep into counts, a lot of early contact, not very good contact.”
And finally, Specht help Miami scoreless in the ninth, where a run would’ve ended things positively for the Canes.
UM’s hopes of taking a game this weekend will ride on the arm of sophomore pitcher Slade Cecconi (1-0, 1.50 ERA) who will start Sunday’s game and make his first appearance verses the Gators.