On a beautiful Friday night in Coral Gables, fans filled up Mark Light Stadium to watch the hottest team in baseball Miami Hurricanes take on the Alabama State Hornets.
Before the game, the Canes honored the late Miami Dolphins Quarterback Earl Morrall in what was an emotional moment of silence.
After sweeping the Clemson Tigers for the first time in the program’s history and moving into sole possession of first place in the ACC last week, the Canes looked to build on that momentum in the opener of a four-game home stand.
The ASU Hornets had their own share of "firsts" as well with the Hurricanes becoming the highest ranked team they faced in program history. ASU, however was up for the challenge as they started the game off with two base hits to right field.
7-0 left-handed pitcher Chris Diaz quickly got the Canes out of the jam with a heads up diving catch, which set up a double play, and later a strikeout to end the inning.
Although it was finals week at UM, the Canes looked as if they aced all their exams by starting the game off with six runs. One of the best hitters in baseball, Zach Collins, started the scoring spree by bringing home Dale Carey with a shot a to left-center field. Getting on top of the ball is something Collins has focused on ever since starting off the season 1 for 27, and so far it’s worked for him, leading the team in hits.
Unfortunately for ASU, the damage didn’t end there. The SWAC pitcher of the Year TJ Renda couldn’t seem to get out of the first and gave up an RBI single to Brandon Lopez, a bases clearing 3 RBI stand up triple to Alex Hernandez and finally an infield sacrifice bunt/swing, which brought in Hernandez. Miami was set to pencil in their 20th win out of the last 21 games.
In the third inning, Diaz struggled. After giving up an RBI base hit to Waldyvan Estrada, Diaz loaded the bases. Diaz once again got himself out of the jam by getting Dexter Price to fly out to center field. In three innings the Canes gave up 5 hits, which resulted in only one run.
Unlike the Hornets, the Hurricanes were able to capitalize with men on scoring position. Alex Hernandez once again had Renda’s hand and drove in Ricky Eusebio with an RBI double. Brad Fieger then brought Hernandez home with an RBI single.
Miami was not done scoring, however. Mental mistakes would cost ASU an additional run. After a failed pick off attempt to first base advanced Fieger to third, a Dale Carey infield hit caused confusion between ASU’s shortstop and third baseman, which lead to a Fieger trot to home plate. Miami was up 9-1 heading into the fourth.
From then on the game slowed down. Neither team scored between the fourth and seventh inning. Diaz finished his day with seven innings pitched, one earned run, eight hits allowed and six strikeouts.
Sebastian Diaz woke up the crowd in the eight inning with a monstrous two run homerun that hit the scoreboard in left field. Diaz’s homerun was the icing on Miami’s 11 run cake on Friday.
After the game, Alex Hernandez spoke about the possibility of a cycle after hitting a triple and a double on his first two at bats. "We tried coming up with a game plan," said Hernandez. "I had to hit a single, and then for my last at bat go four."
Coincidentally, today marked the 11th year since the last Hurricane hit a cycle, with Gaby Sanchez doing it in 2003.
The Hurricanes finished their first game of the series, beating the ASU Hornets 11-1. The two teams play tomorrow night at 7 pm at the Light.