Though the season is still young for the Miami baseball team, it has been nothing short of dramatic.
Last weekend the Hurricanes were swept in a three-game series by the now No. 1 Florida Gators, with two of the games ending in extra innings.
But Wednesday night in the pouring rain at Mark Light Field, Miami ended the game in victory on a two-run walk-off home run hit by third baseman Raymond Gil in the bottom of the ninth inning to record the team’s first victory in three games.
“Very fortunate to come out with a win,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “The guys are real happy right now. Its kind of a game where you can see guys were looking around and going, ‘oh jeez’. We had the game and the wind was blowing out, but it worked in our favor too.”
Tied at five from the top of the seventh inning on, designated hitter Adrian Del Castillo singled to start the ninth inning for the Hurricanes before Gil, who was 0-2 coming in the last inning, worked a 1-2 count and hit a home run over the left field wall off Graham Hoffman, who collected the loss for South Florida.
“It was a slider up in the zone and I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Gil said. “I was just trying to keep the rally going for our team. I got a pitch up in the zone and I put a good swing on it.”
The Bulls (2-7) held their own early on. Carmine Lane, USF’s second batter, hit a two-run home run off Miami starting pitcher Alex McFarlane to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead after just half an inning. Miami first baseman Alex Toral responded with an RBI single of his own to put the Canes on the board in the bottom of the first.
Redshirt freshman Luis Tuero, who made his first start at second base in place of Tyler Paige, recorded an RBI in his first at bat that allowed Miami to tie the game at 2-2 after two innings. Tuero finished the game with one hit in three at bats and three RBI’s. The second baseman’s two other RBI’s came in the fourth inning and pushed Miami’s lead to 4-2.
A fifth inning home run from freshman Jared Thomas, the first of his career as a Hurricane, put Miami up 5-2. But a run in the sixth inning and a two-run home run in the seventh tied the game at 5-5, where Gil’s heroics won the game for Miami.
After a difficult weekend, this was a much needed victory for the Hurricanes, who are hoping roll into this weekend’s series against Towson with momentum.
“We cannot let this past weekend kill out confidence,” DiMare said. “They were close, tough, hard battled games and we cannot let that beat us down. I was hoping that this would be a game that we played better in, but there are going to be games when you play not so good, and if you can win those games, that’s really big, so for us, we should take that as this is going to motivate us to move forward and get ready for the weekend and have a lot of confidence.”
“Nothing’s really changed, we just keep battling,” Gil said.” We’ve always talked about if we are going to be the team we want to be, we’ve got to win close games. We didn’t win those previous three close games, but we’ve got to keep the confidence and keep fighting and know that we’re good enough to win those close games.”
Miami will face Towson in a three-game series beginning on Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 1, all at Mark Light Field.