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No. 9 Hurricanes Take Down FAU 8-5

March 21, 2012

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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 R H E W: J. Salas (2-0)
Hurricanes 1 1 0 0 3 0 2 1 0 8 12 1 L: B. Logan (1-2)
Owls 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 1 0 5 12 2 S: E. Encinosa (6)
Batting

2B: T. Palmer (4), R. Rodriguez (9), P. O’Brien (9) | M. Albaladejo (5)
HR: P. O’Brien (8), E. Tresgallo (2) | R. Santiago (2)
RBI: P. O’Brien (26), M. Broad (14), B. Fieger 2 (13), R. Rodriguez (11), E. Tresgallo 2 (6), D. Carey (8) | K. Newton (21), R. Santiago (11), G. Bennis (1), M. Morales (6)
SB: T. Palmer (7), M. Broad (4)

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The ninth-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes made the short trip up north for a midweek battle with in-state foe Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday, capturing their third-straight win by a final score of 8-5.

It was once again reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week Peter O’Brien, with some help from sophomore third baseman Brad Fieger, who helped power the Hurricanes to victory in a 12-hit barrage. Every Hurricane starter but one recorded a hit in the game.

O’Brien started the fireworks in the first inning with two outs and nobody on base. The senior catcher, leading the team in nearly every hitting category entering Wednesday’s game, crushed the first pitch he saw over the fence in right-center field. The homerun, O’Brien’s eighth of the season, was the fourth in the past seven days for the Miami Gardens, Fla. native.

The Canes struck for another run in the second inning, as Fieger crossed the plate to extend the Miami lead to 2-0. After Fieger singled to start off the frame, freshman Esteban Tresgallo successfully moved the Naples, Fla. native over with a sacrifice bunt. A weak infield groundball from Stephen Perez would give Hurricanes runners on the corners, before Michael Broad stepped to the plate.

Broad, who has been slotted into the Hurricanes’ designated hitter position for each of the last five games, hit a grand slam early in the team’s 10-5 win over the Owls in February. This time, he laced a single to centerfield that took an odd hop and skipped past Owls’ centerfielder Geoff Jimenez. Fieger scored with Perez shortly behind him, but after stumbling while rounding third, Perez raced back to the base. Jarred Mederos also failed to knock in Perez, as his shallow flyball to centerfield was caught and fired back to homeplate for an inning-ending double play.

Freshman lefthander Chris Diaz started the game for the Hurricanes and pitched effectively in his brief stint. Diaz allowed only two hits and held the talented Owls’ offense scoreless through his three innings of work. Though reliever Javi Salas allowed the Owls to tie the game at two runs apiece in the bottom of the fourth, the Hurricanes struck back for three more runs in the top of the next inning.

With the top of the order due up in the fifth, rightfielder Tyler Palmer smacked a double to the gap in right center, and would eventually steal third after a flyout from Dale Carey. The Owls decided to intentionally walk O’Brien, and senior leftfielder Rony Rodriguez made them pay. The Miami, Fla. native crushed a double down the left field line, which plated Palmer and advanced O’Brien to third. A two-RBI single from Fieger, his third hit of the day, scored both O’Brien and Rodriguez to increase the Miami lead to 5-2.

The Owls would strike for a run in each of the next two innings, with the Hurricanes sporting a shaky one-run lead entering the seventh. But a two-run homerun from Tresgallo that curled its way around the right-field foul pole bumped the lead to a much safer 7-4.

The Hurricanes would tack on their eighth run of the night in the top of the eighth inning before handing the ball off to closer E.J. Encinosa with his team up 8-5. Encinosa got the first two batters of the ninth swinging before loading the bases on three consecutive walks. The Miami native regained his nerve, however, striking out the final batter of the inning for his sixth save of the season.

GAME NOTES:

Call to the Pen…And Again
The Hurricanes used Wednesday’s matchup against FAU as an opportunity for many of their pitchers to see some important action. Coach Jim Morris used seven pitchers total: Chris Diaz, Javi Salas, Alex Fernandez, AJ Salcines, Adam Sargent, Eric Nedeljkovic and E.J. Encinosa.

Getting Over the Hump
Freshman third baseman Esteban Tresgallo has been one of the brightest spots for the Hurricanes in 2012, but the Puerto Rico native was struggling during his most recent 1-for-16 stretch. Tresgallo ended it in the best way possible, however, belting a two-run homerun late in the game to give the Canes a 7-4 lead.

Shut ‘Em Down
Junior closer E.J. Encinosa recorded his sixth save of the season in the 8-5 win. Encinosa, who won Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors for his work in the bullpen, has returned to form for the Canes with four saves over the past eight games.