Canes Drop Series Finale at No. 4 Florida, 4-1
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A three-hit and two-RBI performance by freshman Kendrick Calilao powered No. 4 Florida past the Miami Hurricanes in Sunday’s series finale at McKethan Stadium, 4-1.
The Gators (5-3) took advantage of a few mistakes by the Hurricanes (5-2) and Calilao made Miami pay for nearly every miscue, delivering two big hits to help Florida win the series over the rival Canes.
“They took advantage of our mistakes and they had a couple base hits with two outs and guys in scoring position,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “We had the bases loaded with two outs and had another situation where we had a couple guys on with two outs and couldn’t get the big hit. In games like this that are low scoring with good pitching, you’ve got to get those hits.”
Florida got on the board early, as Austin Langworthy battled back from an 0-2 count to work a walk in an eight-pitch plate appearance. Miami starter Brian Van Belle threw a wild pitch that allowed Langworthy to move to second. Calilao, who celebrated his 19thbirthday on Sunday, drove him home with a two-out RBI single to left that gave the Gators a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes opened the second inning with a wild play, as Adrian Del Castillo reached on a throwing error by second baseman Blake Reese. Del Castillo got tied up with Calilao around the first base bag, but no obstruction was called on the play and Miami’s designated hitter was thrown out at second trying to advance after the errant throw.
Miami got a pair of runners on with one out in the third, as Florida starter Jack Leftwich walked Michael Amditis and Jordan Lala. A wild pitch moved both runners up 90 feet to give the Canes runners on second and third with two outs, but Leftwich fired a 2-2 fastball past Anthony Vilar to end the threat and strand the two Canes on base.
In his next at-bat Del Castillo evened the score, crushing a solo homer over the scoreboard beyond the right field fence with one out in the fourth inning. The freshman, who has hit safely in all seven games this season, rocked a 2-2 fastball from Leftwich and hit it through the strong winds blowing in from right field to tie the game, 1-1.
But the Gators took advantage of another Hurricane miscue to regain the lead in the fourth. With two outs in the innings, Reese singled to right to put runners on the corners for Florida. But Miami shortstop Freddy Zamora let the throw from Luis Tuero get away from him and Cory Acton scored from third as the ball scurried into shallow left field to give the Gators a 2-1 lead.
“It’s the little miscues and mistakes,” DiMare said. “There’s no play at second on a ball hit to the outfield and we short-hopped the guy and it gets away from him and that gives them another run. You’re giving it to them when you do things like that.”
Leftwich left the game with the lead and earned the win, allowing one run on five hits over five innings while striking out seven. The sophomore right-hander was replaced by lefty Jordan Butler, who faced Miami’s two big lefties, Del Castillo and Toral, and one of its hottest hitters in Gil in the top of the sixth.
Butler, who took the loss on Friday night, retired Del Castillo and Toral. Gil smacked his second two-out hit of the day to keep the inning alive for the Hurricanes, but Butler got pinch hitter Chet Moore to ground out to end the inning and keep momentum on Florida’s side. The sixth was the first of three scoreless innings of relief thrown Sunday by the sophomore.
The momentum continued to build in favor of the Gators, as Calilao hit a leadoff homer off Van Belle to open the bottom of the sixth and double Florida’s lead, 3-1. Miami’s starting pitcher turned in a solid outing, allowing three runs on six hits with two strikeouts over six innings, but took his first loss as a Hurricane.
Calilao delivered again for the Gators in the eighth, leading off the inning with a double to left that landed just outside the reach of a diving Lala. The freshman moved over to third on a groundout and scored when Reese singled to left to beat Miami’s shift and give the Gators a three-run lead.
“He seemed to hit the ball all over the field,” DiMare said. “He hit the ball out the other way and that was into the wind and then he pulled the ball for the double. He’s a first baseman and he’s an offensive guy. He swung the bat well and seemed to stick out more than most of their guys.”
Florida closer Nolan Crisp shut the door in the ninth, earning the save and wrapping up the series for the Gators.
“I’m still confident in our guys,” DiMare said. “We’re 5-2 early in the season. It’s not what we wanted here against these guys. We came up here to win the series and we weren’t able to do that. It’s a long season. We’ve just got to get better and better and see where we are at the end of the year.”
Miami is back in action Wednesday, traveling across town for a midweek game at FIU. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.