Collins' Home Run Powers No. 8 Miami to 7-2 W
|W – T. Woodrey (2-0)||6.2||5||2||1||2||1|
|L – A. Puk (1-1)||2.1||4||3||3||2||2|
|UM – Z. Collins||4||2||2||3||1||1|
|UM – Iskenderian||2||2||1||0||2||0|
|PLAYER OF THE GAME|
|Zack Collins | Soph. | C
Collins belted his first home run of the season Saturday night, cranking a no-doubt shot off Gators’ reliever Aaron Rhodes into the bullpen in right-center. The blast bumped Miami’s lead from 3-0 to 6-0.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Powered by the first home run of the season from sophomore slugger Zack Collins, the eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes evened their series with No. 6 Florida Saturday, capturing game two by a final score of 7-2 at Alfred McKethan Stadium.
After a heartbreaking walk-off loss the night before, Miami rebounded with one of its best all-around performances of the young season to set up a rubber match Sunday.
“You have to relax and play. This is a tough place for us to play, no question about it,” head coach Jim Morris said. “They have a great program, they’ve played well lately. It’s a big rivalry for a long time. It was a huge win.”
A three-run blast from Collins off Gators reliever Aaron Rhodes made its way into the Miami bullpen in right-center field, bumping the Hurricanes’ lead from 3-0 to 6-0 in the fourth inning. That was more than enough for junior lefthander Thomas Woodrey (2-0), who delivered a dominant outing on the mound in front of 6,081 fans.
“I thought the run support early in the game was huge,” Woodrey said. “I’m not really a big strikeout pitcher, I’m more of a pitch-to-contact kind of guy. Having the big lead we did early on really allowed me to throw strikes and let my defense make plays for me.”
Woodrey was sharp, allowing just five hits in 6.2 innings. The Lighthouse Point, Fla., native, making just his second start as a member of the weekend rotation, shut down a talented Gators lineup by allowing just four singles and a solo home run.
He exited in the seventh to a standing ovation from the Miami fan contingent in attendance. With the victory, Woodrey improved his career record to 10-0 in three seasons with the Hurricanes.
“He pitched well,” Morris said. “He mixed it up a lot, he hit his spots, he got out of some jams. We made some good plays for him… it was a combination of both [good pitching and hitting]. I thought he pitched well and stayed ahead of the hitters. He challenged them and went right after them.”
The Miami offense gave Woodrey an early lead, scoring runs in four of the game’s first five innings to jump out to a commanding advantage.
Making his first start of the season at shortstop, junior Brandon Lopez wasted little time in making an impact. With the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, Lopez laced a pitch from Florida lefthander A.J. Puk into rightfield, scoring George Iskenderian for a 1-0 lead.
Puk struck out leadoff hitter Carl Chester to avoid any further damage.
But the Hurricanes (5-2) chased the talented Puk from the game just an inning later. Miami opened the third with back-to-back singles from Ricky Eusebio and Collins to put runners on the corners for David Thompson. The designated hitter came through for Miami, lacing a double down the leftfield line for a 2-0 lead. An RBI groundout from Willie Abreu made it 3-0 and forced a call to the bullpen, as Rhodes entered and struck out the next two batters to maintain the three-run deficit.
Miami staged a two-out rally in the fourth inning, paving the way for Collins’ home run. After the first two batters of the inning struck out, Chester extended his hitting streak to seven games with a triple into the rightfield corner, and Eusebio followed with a walk.
With runners on the corners, Collins belted the first pitch he saw from Rhodes – a fastball down the heart of the plate – to deep right-center. The home run was the first of the year for the reigning Baseball America National Freshman of the Year, who connected for 11 dingers as a freshman last season.
He finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Zack had a big day, getting his first home run,” Morris said. “That was nice for him to kind of break out of his shell a little bit, two big hits for us.”
Florida tagged Woodrey for an unearned run in the bottom half of the fourth, as Florida loaded the bases on two singles and an error. But Woodrey came through in a big spot, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly from Josh Tobias before retiring Josh Sternagel on a flyout ro right for the final out of the fourth.
Sophomore Derik Beauprez finished off the game, pitching the final 2.1 innings and allowing just one hit with two strikeouts.
The Hurricanes will return to McKethan Stadium for the series finale on Sunday. First pitch for the game, slated for broadcast on SEC Network+, is set for 1 p.m.