The Hurricanes opened their season against Rutgers Friday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Stadium with a 3-0 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Sophomore Jesse Lepore was dominant in his performance, throwing 6 shutout innings on his way to his first win of the season.
After a quiet first one and a half innings Edgar Michelangeli walked to start the bottom of the second. After the walk, Romy Gonzalez hit a homerun in the to put the Canes’ up 2-0 early, and the lead would never be relinquished.
Jim Morris said early in the season that this UM side would rely on pitching and defense to win most of their games, and that was put on display today, as after the Gonzalez home run the bats went quiet for both sides, as the victorious Hurricanes had only four hits on the day.
After Lepore’s dominant performance through six, Jim Morris called on Andrew Cabezas to go in for the 7th and the 8th. Cabezas was put into a pressure situation immediately after coming into the game, walking speedster Jawuan Harris, the first batter he faced, having him steal second, and then throwing a wild pitch and seeing Harris make it all the way over to third with no outs. After this Cabezas settled in however, as he used his slider to cause a foul ball, a strikeout, and then a harmless grounder to end the inning. If Cabezas controls and uses the slider as well as he did tonight, he will be in the MLB in a jiffy.
Later on in the game the mantra for this team of getting em on, over, and then in was put on display with smart baserunning in the bottom of the 8th. The Hurricanes had Johnny Ruiz on base with 2 outs, with an opportunity to put a vital 3rd run on the board, when a shallow fly was hit to Rutgers second baseman Christian Campbell. Ruiz, who was stealing on the play, showed smart base running skills, which will be vital for the Hurricanes this season, and scored going from first to home when Campbell overran the fly ball, and watched it drop to the ground next to him, putting the Canes’ up 3-0, and effectively sealing the game, as Frankie Bartow came in to close it out.
Frankie came in and looked to capture his stellar performances from last season. Bartow was expected to be the closer at the start of the season, and expectations have been high coming into the season for him...
BOY DID HE NOT DISAPPOINT...
Bartow threw a 1-2-3 inning and gained his first save of the season, and sealed the deal for the Canes’ first win of the season.
In other news, Christopher Barr made a surprise appearance tonight, Barr, who was not expected to play due to a back injury, came in for Greg Veliz as a defensive replacement. Barr seemed to move around pretty well, and made several solid defensive plays throughout the end of the game.
Surprise, surprise...Chris Barr, who is coming off back surgery, is now in the game at first base for the 'Canes.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) February 18, 2017
However, the most special moment of the night may have been when Michael Burns, a new transfer from Cisco College, trotted out to start for the Canes’ at RF. Less than a year ago Burns underwent 37 treatments for cancer, and on a day where UM suffered immense loss from the same disease with the passing of former DB Leonard Myers, it was truly special to see Burns jog out to play RF for the Hurricanes. In fact, it almost seemed a touching, and almost fitting tribute to Myers, and it was touching to see Burns, such a young kid, come back from a devastating disease.
Winning Pitcher: Jesse Lepore (1-0, 2 Hs, 0 ERs, 0 BBs, 7 Ks, 6.0 IPs)
Losing Pitcher: John O’Reilly (0-1, 3 Hs, 2 ERs, 3 BBs, 7 Ks, 7.0 IPs) Actually had a very nice night for the Scarlet Knights, sometimes you just have bad luck.
Save: Frankie Bartow (1)
Tomorrow 7:00 P.M Eastern vs Rutgers
Starting Pitcher: Jeb Bargfeldt (2016: Pitched at Cisco College)
Radio: WVUM 90.5
Television: ACC Network Extra