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Ligon Guides Miami to Fifth Straight Win

Ligon Guides Miami to Fifth Straight Win

by Josh White

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami Hurricanes starter Karson Ligon didn’t pitch like a freshman.

He pitched like a veteran.

Behind Ligon’s masterful performance, the Hurricanes flew past the FAU Owls, 9-1, in front of 2,759 fans at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field Wednesday evening.

“The change-up is a difference-maker and that’s a swing-and-miss pitch,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “You can’t defend a swing-and-miss and he’s got it. FAU is an aggressive team, they’re looking fastball, especially in fastball counts. So, the change-up was a very effective pitch tonight. He looked good and he’s done that all fall and spring. It’s not surprising for us.”

Ligon worked his way through the Owls’ lineup with ease, punching out eight across five innings. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound right-hander surrendered only one run on two hits in the victory.

The Sarasota, Fla., native became the first Hurricane since Danny Garcia in 2014 to strike out at least eight batters in his first career start.

“My change-up was definitely working for me today,” Ligon said. “I started to really hit my groove in the third inning. Then from there, I really took off with it.”

Miami’s offense supported the heralded freshman from the jump.

In the first inning, sophomore Yohandy Morales singled home leadoff man CJ Kayfus, putting the Hurricanes (5-0) ahead, 1-0.

FAU (3-2) slugger Nolan Schanuel tied the game with a solo shot in the third, but Ligon wasn’t fazed.

The Hurricanes’ hurler remained poised and responded by fanning the next batter to end the frame.

“It’s important to punch back right when you get punched,” Ligon said. “That was big to strike that guy out there.”

The Hurricanes fed off of Ligon’s calm demeanor.

In the bottom half of the frame, Ligon’s batterymate Maxwell Romero Jr. put Miami back in front with a sacrifice fly to center.

Freshman outfielder Lorenzo Carrier was hit by a pitch, sparking a two-out rally.

Dorian Gonzalez Jr. singled up the middle, driving in Dominic Pitelli before Jacob Burke followed one pitch later with an RBI knock of his own, extending Miami’s lead to 4-1.

“We stayed the course and continued to grind out each pitcher that they put out there,” Burke said. “By the end, we got to the bullpen and got some clutch hits and had success.”

Ligon retired the final seven batters he faced after his lone blemish in the third.

Fellow freshmen Rafe Schlesinger and Gage Ziehl followed with a scoreless inning, tossing the sixth and seventh, respectively.

With Miami’s pitching staff keeping the Owls at bay, the Hurricanes broke the contest open with a five-run seventh.

Miami scored a run on a wild pitch, Burke plated a pair with his second hit of the night and outfielder Jacoby Long delivered the final blow with a two-run blast.

“We swung the bat and we got some big key two-out hits,” DiMare said. “Burke had three RBI with two swings with two outs, so I’m very happy with that. We pretty much played a complete game, but really two big innings there in the third and seventh.”

The Hurricanes will look to continue their winning ways when Miami welcomes Harvard to Mark Light Field for a three-game set. The weekend series begins at 7 p.m. Friday before a Saturday night matchup and a Sunday matinee to wrap up the weekend.