Not many people across the college baseball landscape predicted No. 21 Miami to take two of three games versus No. 1 Florida at the brand-new Florida Ballpark in Gainesville, Florida this weekend.
Although they had reeled in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes this winter, the Hurricanes remained underdogs with the Gators having swept them at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables last year.
Opening its season with a series against the nation’s consensus No. 1 team for the first time in history, Miami maintained momentum from Saturday’s 13-inning victory and held on to defeat Florida 8-6 in the rubber game.
Entering the bottom of the eighth inning trailing 8-6, the Gators had runners on first and third base after first baseman Jordan Butler singled to third base, and shortstop Josh Rivera hit one into right field. Right fielder Sterlin Thompson, however, lined out to first base as first baseman Alex Toral tagged Rivera out to end the frame.
Having not tacked on a run since a three-run fourth inning, the ninth remained scoreless for the Canes. Miami center fielder Tony Jenkins, who recorded three RBI on Saturday, and designated hitter Jared Thomas both grounded out to first base. Left fielder Jordan Lala singled to right field and stole second base despite being initially called out, though he did not score his third run given second baseman Anthony Vilar’s fly out to left field.
Similarly, the Gators could not score a run after posting four combined runs through the sixth and seventh innings. Florida catcher Mac Guscette and second baseman Colby Halter each flew out to left field, while leadoff left fielder Jacob Young also flew out to end the game on a diving grab by Jenkins.
Left-handed pitcher Carson Palmquist, who struck out four batters in three innings on Saturday night, came into the game in the ninth inning and held Florida without a hit or a walk. Sixth-year transfer Ben Wanger allowed two hits in the eighth despite throwing seven strikes in nine pitches.
Miami shortstop Raymond Gil hit a solo home run to left center field on a 2-2 count to build Miami an early five-run lead in the third inning. Third baseman Yohandy Morales, despite a 0-for-7 outing on Saturday, hit a one-out RBI triple down the right-field line to bring Lala home.
Having seen enough out of starting pitcher Hunter Barco, who secured two wins in 2020 while posting a 1.40 ERA, Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan replaced Barco with Hunter Mink in the fourth inning. Through one-and-two-thirds innings, Mink held Miami to one hit and two walks while striking out three batters.
Canes freshman starting pitcher Victor Mederos, on the other hand, allowed seven hits and two runs through four-and-two-thirds innings yet also struck out five Gator hitters. One of those two runs was unearned as Guscette reached first base on a fielding error charged to Morales.
Recording 13 hits on the contest, Florida left the same number of players on base despite a .325 overall hitting clip. 11 Miami baserunners were left on base, though the Canes went 1-for-2 with the bases loaded while the Gators went 1-for-5.
Right fielder Christian Del Castillo, a Seton Hall transfer, singled to right center field in the top of the fourth inning, advancing Gil to third base. Catcher Adrian Del Castillo and Morales touched home to give Miami a 5-0 lead.
Miami led 8-0 before Butler hit an RBI single in the fourth inning to get Florida on the board, triggering Miami head coach Gino DiMare to replace Mederos with sophomore Anthony Arguelles, who relinquished one hit in one inning on Saturday. The graduate of Christopher Columbus High School (Coral Gables) balked in the sixth, leading Halter in from third base.
The Gators continued to slice into the eight-run deficit off of a seventh-inning RBI double from right fielder Sterlin Thompson. The freshman later reached home on Halter’s one-out RBI single.
With runners on first and second base, Spencer Bodanza filled in for freshman Jake Smith, who had struck out left fielder Jacob Young and had walked center fielder Jud Fabian on a full count. Designated hitter Nathan Hickey flew out to right field to end the Gators final inning of scoring.
Palmquist closed the door on Florida in the ninth inning on only nine pitches, also securing his first save on the season. Arguelles recorded his first Hurricane win, while Barco picked up the loss, having allowed all of Miami’s eight runs.
Miami entered the series having lost 15 of its 18 previous matchups against Florida. With its first series win over Florida since 2014, Miami returns home to face Virginia Tech in a three-game series starting next Friday. First pitch will be at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.