Canes Fall to Gators 7-5 in Series Opener
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The eighth-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes were handed their first loss of the season on Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park, as visiting No. 1 Florida upended the Canes by a final score of 7-5.
All-American catcher Mike Zunino jumpstarted the Gators’ offense, who connected for 15 hits against Miami pitchers. Zunino, who finished 4-for-5 with two runs batted in, led off the second inning with a double. He would score the first run of the year allowed by starter Eric Erickson on a sacrifice fly from Austin Maddox later in the inning.
The Canes, behind 2-0 entering the bottom of the third, regained life on a two-run homerun from former Gator Tyler Palmer. Florida would score runs in each of the next three innings, however, including a three-run fifth that gave them a commanding 6-2 lead.
Erickson (2-1) endured a tough start for the Canes, who fell to 8-1 on the season. The southpaw allowed a season-high nine hits, including six earned runs, while striking out a season-low three batters. Miami bullpen arms Christian Diaz, Alexander Fernandez, A.J. Salcines and Javi Salas pitched four impressive innings in relief, allowing a total of six hits and only one run in that span.
Florida starter Hudson Randall (2-0), who struck out six Hurricanes batters, started off strong but faltered towards the end of his start. He left the game in the sixth inning, as Miami came storming back with a three-run frame to cut the Gators’ lead to 7-5.
After back-to-back singles from first baseman Brad Fieger and shortstop Michael Broad to start the inning, freshman Esteban Tresgallo struck out with runners on the corners. But Chantz Mack, starting in left field in the place of an ailing Rony Rodriguez, hit a single to right center that scored Fieger. Julian Santos, making his first start in centerfield since Opening Day, followed up Mack’s basehit with the fourth single of the inning for Miami, knocking in both Broad and Mack.
Maddox, who entered the game as the Gators’ second reliever, shut down the Canes after moving from first base to the pitching mound in relief. He earned the save for his stellar 3.1 innings of work, where he allowed only two hits and struck out seven.
The two teams return to the diamond for another rendition of the classic rivalry on Saturday night, as RHP Eric Whaley (1-0, 0.75 ERA) will take on RHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 0.87 ERA). The game can be seen live on Canes All-Access, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m.
Red Hot Freshman
Third baseman Esteban Tresgallo extended his hitting streak to eight games with his second-inning double to left center. The Guaynabo, Puerto Rico native has a hit in every single game but one for the Hurricanes in 2011, and has raised his average to .407.
Designated hitter Tyler Palmer connected on his second homerun of the season in the third inning, as he bashed a two-run homerun over the left field wall to tie the game at two runs apiece. Palmer, who played his freshman season at Florida, did not hit any homeruns during his one season in Gainesville.
Just a Little Unwell
Rony Rodriguez was held out of his usual cleanup spot in the lineup after dealing with a kidney stone on Thursday and Friday. His status for the rest of the series is up in the air, according to Coach Morris.