Canes Fall Short in Series Finale vs. FSU, 6-5
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami Hurricanes pitchers posted a season-high 18 strikeouts in Sunday’s series finale, but a series of mistakes throughout the game allowed Florida State to avoid a sweep with a 6-5 win.
The Canes (20-12, 7-8 ACC) made three errors that led to three unearned runs over the final five innings, and that proved to be the difference for the Seminoles (19-12, 7-8 ACC) inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field on Sunday afternoon.
“We made a lot of little mistakes,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “I didn’t even realize that we walked two guys and struck out 18 guys, that’s unbelievable, and we lost the game. From a pitching standpoint, we just dominated from walk-to-strikeouts and we didn’t come up with the W. We made some crucial errors there, did not play a complete game in any fashion, and we still had a chance to win.”
With the game tied at four in the top of the eighth, Miami sent ace reliever Gregory Veliz to the mound to face the Seminoles’ 6-7-8 hitters. Florida State loaded the bases after just three pitches from Veliz, as Nander De Sedas singled, Veliz mishandled a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Foster and Alec Sanchez bunted for a single to fill the bases with Seminoles.
Veliz nearly escaped the jam unscathed, getting a flyout to right and a strikeout before inducing a groundball to short that Freddy Zamora threw away trying to retire Nico Baldor at first and end the inning. Instead, two runs scored and the Seminoles took their largest lead of the series, 6-4.
Zamora got one of the runs back, hitting a two-out solo homer off FSU closer J.C. Flowers in the ninth. But the Hurricanes could not muster anything else in the inning and finished 1-for-8 with two outs in the series finale.
“We had a chance to win the game,” DiMare said. “We made a ton of mistakes and still had a chance to win the game there at the end Disappointing because we had a chance to sweep, but we move forward and get ready for Florida Gulf Coast.”
Sunday’s game began as a back-and-forth battle, with the Seminoles scoring and Miami answering in back to back innings.
After being shutout in each of the first two games in Coral Gables, Florida State finally scored a run in its 21stinning of action against the Hurricanes.
Senior shortstop Mike Salvatore hit a one-out double to left off Miami starter Brian Van Belle that pushed home Sanchez to give Florida State a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. The run snapped a streak of 20.2 scoreless innings by Miami pitchers dating back to the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against FAU.
But Miami’s offense, which produced 15 runs over the first two games, answered in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs off Florida State left-hander Shane Drohan to jump back ahead of their in-state rival.
Alex Toral led off the inning with a walk and Jordan Lala smacked a one-out double to the left field corner that gave the Canes have runners on second and third for Anthony Vilar. The freshman second baseman tied the game at one with a double to the wall in left that pushed home Toral. Zamora followed with an RBI single through the left side that sent home Lala to put the Canes ahead, 2-1.
Flowers, who pitched the final two innings and earned the save on Sunday, sparked an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the third when he caught Adrian Del Castillo’s line drive to center and fired home to throw out Vilar trying to tag up and score. The junior center fielder made a difference at the plate in the next half inning, hitting a one-out solo homer that tied the game.
Two batters later, Foster put FSU ahead with a solo shot to left that gave Florida State a 3-2 lead. Van Belle exited the game after allowing the Seminoles’ bottom two batters in the lineup to reach base. Reliever Albert Maury struck out Mike Salvatore looking to end the FSU rally and close out Van Belle’s line for the day at three runs on six hits over 3.2 innings while striking out six and walking one.
“It was a tough loss,” DiMare said. “We far and away did not play a complete game, Starting with our starting pitching. We struggled there and we had chances to put guys away. We were ahead in counts and couldn’t get the ball down to some of their chase hitters, kept leaving the ball up over and over and over again and they took advantage of that.”
The Hurricane bats came alive again in the bottom of the fourth, as Michael Amditis crushed a two-run homer deep to left that put Miami back on top, 4-3. Amditis’ homer ended the afternoon for Drohan after 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, but it should have been a three-run shot that put Miami up two runs.
“Ray Gil coming around third, he had his head down and didn’t look up and it would’ve been first and third and nobody out,” DiMare said. “The next guy comes up and he hits a home run, so instead of a three-run home run, it’s a two-run home run. That should be five runs instead of four runs.”
Florida State made the Hurricanes pay for an error in the fifth, as Baldor reached base on a throwing error by Zamora. Drew Mendoza followed with a base hit that put runners on first and third and Baldor scored on a one-out sacrifice bunt by Flowers that tied the game at four.
The Canes loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and JP Gates put a charge into a ball headed to left center. Freshman outfielder Elijah Cabell, who was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts as the FSU cleanup hitter on Sunday, ran it down to keep the game tied at four.
Miami will wrap up a five-game homestand on Tuesday with a game against Florida Gulf Coast. The Hurricanes and Eagles will face off in Coral Gables at 6 p.m., before meeting again on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Fla., beginning at 6:30 p.m.