Story Courtesy UM
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Thanks to another dominant showing on the mound from one of its starting pitchers, sixth-ranked Miami finished off an Opening Weekend sweep of Rutgers Sunday with an 8-1 victory.
Toeing the rubber on his 22nd birthday, junior lefthander Danny Garcia continued a trend started by fellow southpaws Thomas Woodrey and Michael Mediavilla in the first two games of the series.
The Miami native tossed seven shutout innings, struck out four batters and allowed just three total baserunners in an impressive outing. For the weekend, Miami’s starting rotation allowed just one earned run and nine hits across 18 innings – good for a combined 0.50 ERA.
“It felt good. I was just trying to command the fastball, command both sides of the plate, and I felt like I was very successful getting ahead of guys,” Garcia said of his start.
Perhaps more impressively, the three Miami lefthanders struck out 15 batters and issued two walks on the weekend.
“We work so hard in practice and outside of the field at keeping the pitching staff intact,” Garcia said of the rotation. “I feel like we had a very successful weekend, and now we’re [moving on to] Wednesday and [next weekend] Florida.”
Freshman Andrew Cabezas and redshirt freshman Keven Pimentel threw the last two innings, allowing just one run.
Considering both Garcia (1-0) and Mediavilla are first-time weekend starters, head coach Jim Morris was even more pleased with Sunday’s effort.
“I felt really good about our pitching, of course,” Morris said. “That was big. Our rotation is a little bit different than it was last year, and we played really solid defense. The youngest [part] is our hitting. We lost some great hitters.
“We need some of these guys getting their first chance to shine, hit in the middle of the order and do some different things, to get it done. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Junior Johnny Ruiz, who led the way with the first four-hit game of his career Sunday, is one of those players Morris is counting on to replace some of that lost talent.
Ruiz hit a team-best .667 on the weekend (6-for-9) with a team-high five RBI.
“I worked hard this offseason,” Ruiz said about his hot start. “This fall I didn’t hit too well in scrimmages, so I really focused on that this winter break, and I’ve been successful. I just want to maintain that.”
Miami’s offense struck for two runs off Rutgers starter John O’Reilly in the first inning, added two more in the sixth and added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth.
Seven of Miami’s eight runs were scored with two outs.
A two-RBI single from Ruiz off O’Reilly (0-1) opened the scoring in the first inning. Junior Willie Abreu added an RBI double in the sixth, Ruiz followed with another RBI single, while Jacob Heyward (bases-loaded walk) and Christopher Barr (two-run triple) added RBI later in the afternoon.
O'Reilly exited after 5.1 innings, having surrendered four hits and two unearned runs.
“We just played team baseball,” Ruiz said. “Everyone contributed a lot, and it takes guys getting on base and [doing] different things. I felt like we played together as a team, and we also played good defense.”
It also helped that Garcia picked up right where Mediavilla left off.
The Miami native kept the Scarlet Knights off-balance in the game’s early innings, and needed just 29 pitches to get through his first three frames. He retired the first eight Rutgers batters he faced and 13 of the first 14.
Morris called Garcia’s start “outstanding.”
Seven of Miami’s 11 hits came in the sixth inning or later, and both Morris and Ruiz were encouraged by the late offensive explosion.
“We broke out a little bit towards the end of the game there, so I think we’re starting to get it together,” Ruiz said. “It was only the first weekend, but it was a good first step in the right direction.”
Cabezas pitched a scoreless eighth in his career debut, while Pimentel struck out the side but allowed one run in his ninth-inning debut. Juniors Barry Buchowski and Joe Gomez, as well as redshirt freshman Ryan Alvarez, also made their debuts as substitutes.
“You can’t outscore people every weekend,” Morris said. “You have to pitch and have a good bullpen. That’s been the secret that has got us to Omaha 12 times since I’ve been here, and I would say Coach Fraser would say that for his 12 times too.”
The Hurricanes return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field Wednesday to play St. Thomas University. First pitch for the game, scheduled for broadcast on ESPN3 and 560 WQAM, is set for 6 p.m.