Ligon dazzles in first start, Miami pounds Florida Atlantic 9-1

Freshman starting pitcher Karson Ligon pitched like an upperclassman.

In his first college start, the right-hander struck out eight batters and held Florida Atlantic to two hits and one earned run in No. 24 Miami’s 9-1 win Wednesday at Mark Light Field.

Freshman pitcher Karson Ligon winds up to pitch at the top of the first inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022.
Freshman pitcher Karson Ligon winds up to pitch at the top of the first inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“Midweek games can always kind of bite you,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “We got our early work in before the game and it went very well, and guys were focused and concentrated for the most part. And we played a complete game. We had a lot of hits. All the pitchers that came in, Karson, starting with him, threw a great first freshman start, outstanding. We swung the bat and got some big, key two-out hits from [Jacob] Burke.”

Miami didn’t take long to find a spark early. Sophomore third baseman Yohandy Morales hit an RBI single to left field to score leadoff hitter CJ Kayfus. Back-to-back RBI base hits increased the Hurricanes’ lead to 4-1 after three innings.

Ligon retired eight of Florida Atlantic’s 11 batters before allowing a solo home run to first baseman Nolan Schanuel in the third. The Sarasota native then prevented the next seven straight Owls from reaching base.

“[Pitching coach JD Arteaga] called a great game, the defense played really good behind me to help me out,” Ligon said. “[Maxwell Romero Jr.] had a great game, too so, he was pretty happy with how I did and I was pretty happy. It was a great feeling.”

Freshman Rafe Schlesinger throws a pitch during the sixth inning of Miami’s 9-1 win over FAU on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field. With Miami’s win on Wednesday night, they move to 5-0 on the season.
Freshman Rafe Schlesinger throws a pitch during the sixth inning of Miami’s 9-1 win over FAU on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field. With Miami’s win on Wednesday night, they move to 5-0 on the season. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Schanuel’s stolen base in the sixth created Florida Atlantic’s scoring opportunity, but right fielder Tyler Kelder and second baseman Steven Loden left the runner stranded.

Aside from managing only two baserunners across the middle innings, Miami (5-0) blazed again in the seventh. Right fielder Jacoby Long logged his first home run as a Hurricane with a two-run blast, following Southeastern Louisiana transfer outfielder Jacob Burke’s two-run single.

Sophomore outfielder Jacob Burke hits for a two-run base-hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022. Burke totaled 3 RBIs for the game.
Sophomore outfielder Jacob Burke hits for a two-run base-hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022. Burke totaled 3 RBIs for the game. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“You can just tell that every day we come with purpose to practice,” Burke said. “Everybody’s always trying to get better and [hitting coach Norberto Lopez] does a good job with all of practice. We take a lot of swings at practice, and he just reminds us every day that we’re here to get better and take it one game at a time.”

Miami relievers Rafe Schlesinger, Gage Ziehl, Matt Raudelunas and Anthony Arguelles combined for four innings of relief. None surrendered an earned run or any hits, aside from a one-out walk in the eighth. FAU posted two total hits.

Junior pitcher Anthony Arguelles pitches in the top of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022.
Junior pitcher Anthony Arguelles pitches in the top of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus FAU at Mark Light Field on Feb. 23, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“Our defense didn’t play great over the weekend, that was the one thing that probably stuck out,” DiMare said. “We made some great plays today.”

The Hurricanes left eight runners aboard, while FAU relied on four bullpen arms in its first loss of the teams’ three-game season series.

Ligon earned his first win after pitching three innings in relief Saturday against Towson and UM totaled 10 hits.

Sophomore Jacoby Long celebrates with teammates after hitting his first home run of the season in Miami's win over FAU on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field.
Sophomore Jacoby Long celebrates with teammates after hitting his first home run of the season in Miami's win over FAU on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Josh Halper

“The lineup is pretty deep,” DiMare said. “When the pitcher can’t really take a break, you can’t make too many mistakes because guys will take advantage of him. I’d like to think that guys in the lineup can do that. I’d like to see us cut down on strikeouts. We had too many strikeouts and we’ve been pretty good about walks and strikeouts.”

With its eighth midweek win in nine games, Miami shifts towards a three-game series versus Harvard as it continues its 11-game homestand to open the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.