On a windy Wednesday night in Coral Gables, the Miami Hurricanes were able to complete the season sweep of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, despite numerous mental mistakes, beating them 7-3.
Winners of now 22 of their last 24 games, the Hurricanes (35-14) had won the first two games of the season series, and unfortunately for the Eagles, third time was not the charm.
After two consecutive slow starts against the Alabama State Hornets last week, the Hurricanes made sure to capitalize early this time out. Freshman native sensation Willie Abreu opened things up, bringing home Dale Carey on an RBI groundout—his 26th RBI of the season—quickly putting the Hurricanes on the board.
Senior Tyler Palmer put the Canes up 3-0 in the second inning, bringing in Laz Rivera and Jacob Heyward on an RBI shot to left-center.
With finals being over, Palmer feels as though a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
"We get to sleep in to whenever and then hit the field," said Palmer. "It’s like professional baseball, you sleep and play ball… it’s nice."
Offensively, the Hurricanes have done a tremendous job with runners in scoring position over this torrid streak.
"We’ve been getting hits when we need them, "said Coach Jim Morris. "[Capitalization] is something you can’t teach, but our players believe they can get things done…it’s a mental thing."
Ironically, mental mistakes would defensively cost Miami in the third inning. Errors from Zach Collins and Laz Rivera allowed two Eagles to reach home. Rivera, a freshman who graduated with star closer Brian Garcia, was benched after the untimely error.
Replacing him was Johnny Ruiz who had not seen any on-field action since April 20th after he tore the labrum in his throwing (right) shoulder.
Rivera’s substitution was more of a tactical change, however.
"I would’ve started Johnny the first four or five innings if they had started with a right hander," said Morris. "They threw a left hander, so I put in Rivera and then switched him."
Canes quickly returned to their defensive prowess by getting out of the third inning jam on a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded.
RHP Javi Salas (3-3, 3.24 ERA) found himself in another bases loaded situation in the fifth inning, after hitting two players, one on the arm and the other on the helmet, which nearly sent the ball flying to the press box.
After allowing an RBI infield single, putting the Eagles down by just one (4-3,) Salas was taken out of the game and replaced by sophomore LHP Thomas Woodrey (3-0, 2.78 ERA.)
"[Salas] has to pitch better than he did tonight," said Morris "If you walk or hit a guy then we have to make a play on defense."
After consecutive scoreless innings, things would pick up for the Canes as Dale Carey brought home Johnny Ruiz from second on an RBI single to right field in the sixth, Later in the seventh, Brandon Lopez would drive in Willie Abreu and Alex Hernandez on a standup RBI double that skitted past the first baseman to right field.
Up 7-3, freshman RHP Brian Garcia, A.K.A The Lawnmower, came to close things out for the Canes. On just 7 pitches, Garcia earned his 14th save on the season.
Miami plays at Duke (30-18) in a three game series starting at 7:30 pm on May 9th.