Tenth-Ranked Hurricanes Down Redbirds 11-6
|8||9||10||11||12||R||H||E||W: J. Salas (1-0)|
|Illinois St.||2||0||2||1||0||0||0||1||0||X||X||X||6||10||1||L: J. Rhoades (1-1)|
2B: M. Broad (4), J. Mederos (3)
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In an offensive explosion at Alex Rodriguez Park, the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes toppled the visiting Illinois State Redbirds by a final score of 11-6. The two teams, playing in their sole match-up of the 2012 season, combined for 19 hits in Tuesday night’s affair.
Peter O’Brien led the Canes offensively with two homeruns and four RBI, while Stephen Perez also had a three-run homerun for Miami. O’Brien, now the conference leader in homeruns after hitting his sixth longball of the season in the bottom of the seventh inning, broke out of his 2-for-16 slump with a 2-for-3 showing against the Redbirds.
While O’Brien has slowed down his tremendous season-opening production, second baseman Stephen Perez has risen to the occassion, and Tuesday’s game was no different. Last weekend, the junior infielder connected on a three-run homerun and key two-run triple in successive wins against Boston College. On Tuesday, he added another homerun, his third of the season, that helped tilt the game in the Hurricanes favor.
“Our goal as a team offensively is to go out there and try to score every single inning,” O’Brien said. “Anytime we can go out there and have a big game, it’s good.”
After the Redbirds struck for two runs in the top of the first inning, the Hurricanes responded in prompt fashion. After Perez’ three-run shot gave the team a five-run lead, the Hurricanes would not relinquish the lead the remainder of the way. Miami would strike for runs in each of the next three innings, including a two-run shot by O’Brien crushed to centerfield in the fourth, to give themselves a commanding 9-5 advantage.
“It was great to see our team come back in the bottom of the first and put up that five-spot,” Coach Jim Morris said after the game. “It kind of relaxed the team a little bit from that point.”
Andrew Suarez, the scheduled starter for the game, was replaced due to tightness right before the game. Fellow freshman Chris Diaz earned his first career start, allowing four early runs in his 2.2 innings of work.
Despite some pitching concerns early in the game, the bullpen was anything but shaky in relief of Diaz on Tuesday night. Javi Salas earned his first win of the season with an impressive 3.1-inning stint, while A.J. Salcines, Adam Sargent and Alexander Fernandez combined to allow zero earned runs and five strikeouts over the game’s final three innings.
“We’re a tight-knit group in the bullpen,” Salas said after the game. “Some of us haven’t been holding up our end of the bargain. Whenever w can get in there and do our job, it really helps us out.”
The Hurricanes return to action with a game against the UCF Knights at Jay Bergman Field in Orlando, Fla. First pitch for the game, which will be broadcast on WVUM 90.5, is set for 6:30 p.m.
Through the Quad
Third baseman Esteban Tresgallo just won’t let him. The Guaynabo, Puerto Rico native extended his hitting streak to a conference-high 15 games with his 2-for-4 performance against the Redbirds.
Seven of the Hurricanes’ nine batters recorded at least one hit on Tuesday, with O’Brien and Tresgallo leading the way with two hits apiece. In addition, every single starting Hurricane in the field other than Chantz Mack recorded at least one run scored.
Shut ‘Em Down
Javi Salas, AJ Salcines, Adam Sargent and Alex Fernandez pitched as effectively as Coach Morris could have hoped in Tuesday’s win. The four relievers combined for 6.1 innings, allowed only two runs (both unearned) and two hits, and struck out a combined ten batters.