Canes fall on opening night at Florida

Starting pitcher Daniel Federman Photo credit: Josh Halper

The Miami Hurricanes waited 345 days to get back on the field after the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly derailed their 2020 season.

They had to wait another two and a half hours due to rain showers in Gainesville, Florida on Friday afternoon. Play began at the Gators’ brand-new Florida Ballpark after a seemingly interminable offseason, but by mid-game, UF was in control with both their bats and the pitching arms and the Canes fell 7-5 in spite of a spirited late push.

The Gators piled on three runs in the fifth inning, going up 4-1 and never looking back after entering the frame tied 1-1. UF’s Jacob Young singled to drive home Josh Rivera before Nathan Hickey drove in both Young and Kendrick Calilao to chase Miami starting pitcher Daniel Federman from the contest.

Federman allowed just one run through his first four innings but got just one out in the fifth and left with seven hits and four earned runs allowed to accompany a walk and seven strikeouts. He threw 75 total pitches over four and 1/3 innings.

Second-year reliever Jake Garland entered in relief of Federman, escaping the fifth without further damage but allowing an RBI single to Calilao that drove in Rivera in the sixth to make it 5-1 in the sixth.

Florida’s Kris Armstrong then belted a two-run homer in the eighth, making it 7-1. Hickey, Rivera, Calilao and Jordan Butler all went 2-4 for Florida. While the Gators had 11 total hits, Miami was able to manufacture just six, with none coming between the fourth and eighth innings.

UM also committed two infield errors, one by second baseman Anthony Vilar while attempting to throw to first and another by freshman third baseman Yohandy Morales.

The temperature hovered in the low 50s for most of the evening after the soaking cold front trotted through Central Florida.

The Gators opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Hickey hit a solo home run to right field. Miami responded when Christian Del Castillo drove in Morales on a single in the second.

The Canes had multiple chances early to make a lead, both time to no avail. Alex Toral failed to reach home before Del Castillo was tagged out at third base for the third out in the second inning, a decision held up by replay review. Toral then struck out with two outs and the bases in the third.

The Canes did make an effort to get back in the game in the ninth. A Del Castillo two-run RBI double, and sacrifice flies by Tony Jenkins and JP Gates put Vilar up to bat with two outs while representing the potential tying run.

Florida starting pitcher Tommy Mace came out somewhat slowly, having to labor through his first three frames. UM knocked Mace for three hits and drew two walks in the opening three innings, but the Gators’ ace settled and sat down six consecutive Hurricane batters in the fourth and fifth. He finished with eight strikeouts and just one earned run and exited the contest after the fifth frame, having thrown 90 pitches.

Christian Scott (three innings pitched), Chase Centala, Ben Specht (1/3 inning pitched) and Franco Aleman (two-thirds innings pitched) finished the matchup for Florida in relief.

UM will try to even the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Game 2 of the three-game series. Miami freshman pitcher Alejandro Rosario will make his collegiate debut against the Gators’ fourth-year arm Jack Leftwich. The teams will conclude their annual series Sunday at 1 p.m.