No. 11 Baseball Powers By No. 16 Florida 6-4
Coral Gables, Fla. • Alex Rodriguez Park
|W||C. Diaz (2-0)|
|L||B. Poyner (1-1)|
|S||B. Garcia (1)|
|Mattson, B., Gushue, T.|
|Hernandez, A. (2), Palmer, T. (2)|
|Abreu, W. (1), Carey, D. (1), Kennedy, G. (1)|
|Mattson, B. 1, Gushue, T. 1, Shafer, J. 1|
|Hernandez, A. 2 (5), Abreu, W. 1 (1), Carey, D. (2), Kennedy, G. (1)|
February 21, 2014
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Three different Hurricanes connected on their first home runs of the season Friday night, powering No. 11 Miami to a series-opening 6-4 win over No. 16 Florida at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
Freshman Willie Abreu, senior Dale Carey and junior Garrett Kennedy each connected on towering solo shots, marking Miami’s first three-home run explosion since March 13, 2012.
“It’s a great feeling to get that first one out of the way,” Carey said. “Now you have to come back tomorrow to win the series. You have to keep going.”
Junior Chris Diaz got his second straight win to open the season, pitching seven innings with three strikeouts.
“It’s a big win for us, no question,” head coach Jim Morris said. “I thought it was a great effort by our guys. We’re down 3-0 and fought back and were able to get some big hits. It was great to see the offense come alive for Chris.”
The night started poorly for the Hurricanes (3-2), as Florida (4-2) raced out to a 3-0 lead off Diaz (2-0) in the game’s first inning. RBI singles from Taylor Gushue and Justin Shafer sandwiched an RBI double from Braden Mattson, and Miami found itself in an early hole in front of a raucous crowd of 3,481.
The Hurricanes battled back, however, and a two-out, two-RBI double from Alex Hernandez in the bottom of the second cut the deficit to 3-2. Junior Brad Fieger and Abreu reached to lead off the frame, but Jacob Heyward struck out and Garrett Kennedy lined out to center to put the inning in jeopardy. Hernandez came through for the hosts, however, knocking a Bobby Poyner offering into deep left to plate both runners.
Miami took the lead an inning later, scoring two more runs on a wild pitch that plated David Thompson and the career-first home run for Abreu. Thompson led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a balk from Poyner (1-1), and eventually tied the game on a pitch that made its way past the Gators catcher Gushue. Abreu, who recorded his career-first multi-hit game Wednesday against FAU, sent Miami to a 4-3 lead with an opposite-field shot that snuck over the left field wall.
Gators leftfielder Ryan Larson leapt but was unable to come down with it, falling in a heap on the warning track after his unsuccessful attempt.
“I really had no idea,” Abreu said when asked if he knew the ball cleared the fence. “I was running as fast as I could around the bases trying to get to home plate. I saw the guy on the floor, so I just kept going. I heard the noise and everyone scream…it was a good feeling.”
The Hurricanes scored runs in the fifth and sixth on home runs from Carey and Kennedy to pad their lead to 6-3.
After giving up three runs on four hits in the first, Diaz buckled down to allow just four hits the rest of the way, keeping Florida off the scoreboard for the next six innings.
“Chris pitched a very good game,” Morris said. “He didn’t fold up and go home. He kept battling and pitched great after that.”
Bryan Garcia gave up a run in the eighth, but pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his career-first save.
“It was good to see Garcia come in, get his first save and go right after people. He showed some courage,” Morris said of the talented freshman. “He’s been in a lot of games, but not a game like this one right here.”
Miami returns to Mark Light Field for game two of its rivalry series against No. 16 Florida Saturday night. First pitch for the opener is set for 7 p.m.
Season tickets to Miami’s 2014 season at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field start for as low as $99, with a Family Plan option (two adult tickets, three youth tickets) covering all home games available for just $199. For more information, visit CanesTix.com or call (305) 284-2263.